Caster Semenya cocked a snoot at the latest rumpus surrounding testosterone levels in female athletes as she raced to an imperious world-leading time in the women’s 1,500m event in Friday’s IAAF Diamond League in Doha, Qatar, writes MARK ETHERIDGE.
Semenya was almost contemptuous of her competition as she raced to a personal best and new national record of 3min 59.92sec.
That beat her gold medal-winning time of 4:00.71 from just over three weeks ago where she set a Commonwealth Games record in Australia’s Gold Coast.
Semenya, who also won 800m gold in Gold Coast, seemed content to wait things out as the pace was pedestrian early on and, indeed, looked to be almost falling over her feet in impatience.
Never pushed to take the lead, she sat off the pace until the last lap and then started moving up down the back straight before pulling clear of a flailing field as she flew the South African flag high.
She beat runner-up Nelly Jepkosgei by more than a second, the Kenyan clocking 4:00.99.
Semenya told the official Diamond League website after her race: ‘I wanted to go faster, but had to slow down a little. It’s always been a dream to set the NR and continue to push beyond my PB, and I think we definitely achieved what we came here for.
‘I want to maintain this momentum throughout the season, but will also make sure I continue to keep healthy. My immediate next step is to go back and watch the race, and see where we can improve.’
But for once, Semenya’s actual athletics feat had to take a back seat to a fellow athlete, as compatriot Carina Horn was pulled to a national 100m record!
Horn broke last century’s national mark of Evette de Klerk earlier this year when she ran 11.03.
But that mark was left in the dust of Doha as she raced to the first ever sub 11-second 100m by a South African as she ended sixth in a time of 10.98sec.
The race was won by Horn’s fellow African, Cote D’Ivoire’s Marie-Josee Ta Lou in a world-leading 10.85 from yet another African entry, Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor in third place.
Among the women Horn beat was Olympic silver medallist and two-time world champion Dafne Schippers of The Netherlands, who was beaten by 0.05sec by the Ladysmith-born athlete.
Other South African participation saw 2008 Olympic long jump silver medallist Khotso Mokoena ending sixth in the triple jump with a season’s best leap of 16.92m as Cuba’s Pedro Pichardo won in another world-leading 17.95m.
Pieter Conradie took eighth in the men’s one-lapper, clocking 46.68sec as Bahamas athlete Steven Gardiner won in – you guessed it – another world-leading time of 43.87 with Commonwealth Games champion Isaac Makwala third in 44.92.
And then 2014 Commonwealth Games 400m hurdles champion Cornel Fredericks, on the comeback trail after various injury issues, took fifth in 50.03sec, behind Qatar’s Abderrahman Samba who won in… yet another world best for 2018 time of 47.57.
Photo: Semenya leaves the field trailing in her wake, by Karim Jaafar/AFP/Getty Images)