London – South Africa’s Caster Semenya says she can take confidence from the time she ran in her semi-final of the women’s 800m at the London Olympic Games on Thursday night.
Semenya rarely looked troubled as she ran the fastest time of the semi-finals with a time of one minute, 57.67 seconds (1:57:67).
The confident manner in which she won the race was in stark contrast to her pre-Olympics outings.
Her performance supported the notion that Semenya held back her best exclusively for the major competitions, such as the World Championships and the Olympics.
The 21-year-old said coach Maria Mutola would be satisfied with her time after the Mozambican Olympic gold medalist had called on her to produce a good time.
“I think she (Mutola) will be very happy; she said ‘Caster, you have to run a good time so that you can be comfortable for the final',” Semenya said.
“I think the time makes me very confident.”
Semenya seemed to have struggled with her form in the lead-up to the Games, as she struggled to dip below the two-minute mark this season with her season’s best time before the global showpiece coming in Germany, with a time of 1:59.18 last month.
The Limpopo-born athlete nevertheless boasts a fast personal best time of 1:55.45, which she set at the 2009 Berlin World Championships, where she won a gold medal in her specialist event.
The women’s 800m field has grown stronger since 2009 and Semenya will have her work cut out in what could prove to be one of the most dramatic races of the London Games.
She will be competing against the likes of Olympic champion Pamelo Jelimo from Kenya and world champion, Mariya Savinova of Russia on Saturday.
On Thursday night, Semenya brushed aside any inkling that the prospect of running against such pedigreed athletes would rattle her.
“If you want to run a good race you have to forget about everybody, just think of your own race,” she said.
The South African might even have an advantage over the other women in her field, as she received a warm reception from the Olympic Stadium spectators when she was introduced on Thursday.
“I was a little nervous when they called my name in front of this crowd, but I feel at home and it reminds me of good memories,” Semenya said.
Later in the evening, South African sprinting sensation Anaso Jobodwana ran in the men’s 200m final where the Jamaicans took all three podium spots, with Usain Bolt winning his second successive 200m Olympic title in a time of 19.32 seconds.
Yohan Blake won the silver medal in a time of 19.44 seconds, and Warren Weir finished in third place clocking 19.84.
While Jobodwana finished last in the race, he received some encouragement from Blake, who said he thought the South African did well at his first Olympics.
“He (Jobodwana) came close tonight, it’s his first time and I think you guys (South Africans) are getting better,” Blake said.
“I think you guys are good at the distance and the 4x400m and the 400m.”
After the race, an awestruck Jobodwana said he still had a lot of work to do to truly challenge the likes of Blake.
“The coaches who have been working with me tell me that there’s a lot of improvement to be done because my technique is not even proper,” Jobodwana said.
“It was a great experience... I learnt a lot about championships and the finals, and the different types of mind-sets you have to be in to go into the final.” – Sapa