Caster Semenya will win the 800 metres in Rio in 2016. She will win the world championships in 2013. She will win the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014. Caster Semenya, who won the silver medal in the Olympics on Saturday night, will dominate the 800m for some time to come.
Her coach, Maria Mutola, did not flinch from the question when she was asked, in the tunnel of the Olympic Stadium on Saturday night, if her charge would rule the world of 800m. She looked pleased, but not entirely satisfied at the performance of the 21-year-old from Limpopo. She could have, indeed should have won Olympic gold, but, as Semenya herself later admitted, “made a mistake”. Colin Jackson, the former British athlete, suggested on BBC commentary that she had not won because she did not want to be in the spotlight again. It was a nonsense argument and Semenya dismissed it out of hand.
“I’m satisfied with silver. The plan was to win the gold, but I didn’t,” she said, and then she smiled. “It’s my first Olympics and I’m on the podium. I’m still a bit young, I know I’m growing. I know the main thing was to win a gold medal, but the most important thing was to finish on the podium.”
Her form at the London Olympics, while not quite a surprise, was a leap from where she had been in the early season. She’d done okay, but struggledat a meeting in Monaco. She looked lethargic and even Mutola had been surprised.
“I was a little bit surprised at how she ran. It’s one of those things sometimes that athletes have to go through. Like Caster said, it’s a little bit difficult to adapt to a new programme sometimes. We’ve been training very hard and I am expecting good races going into the Diamond Leagues.
“I wasn’t surprised when I came here and she ran those times. I knew from training that Caster can do better. I think she’s in shape to do 1:55. I was very happy with her semi-final performance. I wasn’t so happy with her first round, because I told her I wanted her to finish stronger. She started listening to me.
“I think she can dominate in the next few years. Next year will be very important for her. We’re coming into a world championship, which will be in Russia. Things will be very tough and she’ll have to make sure that she runs the whole race instead of just at the end. She left it a little bit late (on Saturday night), but she was there. She left too big a gap to cover, and I think she was a little bit lucky, to be honest. I did a lot of work after Monaco in terms of her confidence. I told her it was like this – if you are an 800m runner, you have to do these times. If you can do them, then you are better off. I ran with her because her training partner wasn’t there. I helped her out with splits. I was running around, like I always do, controlling splits. Everything was perfect. She was in good shape.” – The Star