By Mark Etheridge┬áin London
Caster Semenya celebrated adding an Olympic silver medal to her 2009 World Championships gold┬á in London on Saturday night and promised to “throw a street bash” in her home province of Limpopo.
After having qualified fastest for the final, Semenya looked dead and buried as the field came into the final straight.
But, just as she rose from the ashes after her battle with gender issues
in 2009, so too did she in London and clocked a season best 1min 57.23sec.
That’s South Africa’s sixth medal of the Games and equals their six-medal haul from the Athens Olympics in 2004.
On the night Mariya Savinova was queen and in a class of her own as she won in 1:57.67 but Semenya was all smiles after her silver medal, the same colour she won at last year’s WorldC Championships in Daegu, Korea.
Russia’s Savinova blew the field away in the final stages after customary front runner Alysia Johnson Montana had taken the field through the halfway mark in 56.31.
Semenya was sluggish from the gun and after Johnson Montanta had gone through the halfway mark in 56.31 she was a significant 1:36 back. She was still third last with a 100m to go but her strength saw her surge back to nab silver.
Afterwards she admitted to a tactical error. “It was a good run but I started too slowly and left it just too late.
“I’m happy with my silver but I don’t think my coach [Maria Mutola] will be as happy,” she grinned.
“But I’ll learn from this mistake going forward. For now though I’m happy to win a silver in my first Olympics. Now we start working to the next Olympics, even though they are four years away.”
Semenya gave credit to the winner. “She’s a very good athlete and a good competitor. She earned her win today.”
Semenya, despite earning a silver medal at the 2011 world championships has had an up and down time of it since being cleared in July 2010 by world athletics governing body, the IAAF.
“The last two years haven’t been great but we’re getting there and I’ll take a season’s best for now.
“It was also great having my parents here to watch me and I hope I did them proud.”
There’s no doubting that… she made an entire nation proud on Saturday night.