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Semenya smashes another SA record!

By Mark Etheridge

Cometh the hour, cometh Caster Semenya!

The Rio Olympics gold medallist and reigning world 800-metre champion broke South Africa’s oldest track record at the Liquid Telkom Athletix Grand Prix at the Tuks Stadium in Pretoria on Thursday night.

She won the seldom-run 1000m race in 2min 35.44sec to beat the old mark of 2:37.2 by close on two seconds.

Co-incidentally the old 1983 record was set in Bloemfontein by Ilze Wicksell, now 58 years old, and a sports manager at the High Performance Centre (HPC) in the same city.

Visiting Ugandan athletes Halimah Nakaayi and Winnie Nanyondo were second and third in 2:37.55 and 2:37.98 respectively as Olympic 400m hurdler Wenda Nel performed early pacemaking duties.

Semenya told SABC afterwards: ‘It was a tough race. The pacemaker went too quickly so I was a little disappointed.’

“The main job of a pacemaker is to guide me, not kill me. But at the end of the day I got a new national record so I couldn’t ask for more. It’s fantastic.”

Semenya’s fine form means she’s nicely set up for a great performance at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games which will be staged in Australia next month between 4-15 April.

Picture of Semenya courtesy of Reg Caldecott