Faster Caster Semenya set to #FillUpPotch

JOHANNESBURG – A year ago she stole the show at the South African Senior Championships in Stellenbosch when she won the 400m, 800m and 1 500m titles.

But this time, racing at home, Caster Semenya is looking for fast times.

The Olympic gold medallist will drop the 1 500m from her programme at the SA nationals in Potchefstroom this weekend, with an eye on her first international race at the Doha Diamond League meeting in Doha next month.

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Olympic 800m champion Caster Semenya may take part in the 400m and 800m this weekend. Photo: Mike Egerton, PACaster Semenya has worked hard on her speed out of the blocks this year. Photo: Mike Egerton, PA

“At nationals, I will be targeting good times because I am preparing for Doha. I don’t want to mess up as I will focus more on the 400m and 800m,” Semenya said.

Finishing last season with a personal best time of 50.40 seconds in the one-lap sprint, Semenya came a step closer to her dream of becoming the first female to run a sub-50 time in the 400m, dip below 1:55 in her specialist 800m event, and clock a sub-four-minute time in the 1 500m.

That 400m time launched her to third place on the national all-time list and should she dip below 50 seconds, she will become the first South African woman to do so.

In only her second race of the season, Semenya posted the third fastest women’s 300m time when she clocked 37.22.

Another good indication that Semenya should edge closer to a sub-50 second time is the fact that she has done more block starts so far this year.

World 400m record-holder Wayde van Niekerk and Akani Simbine gave Semenya flak for her slow start out of the blocks in her last race of the 2016 season.

“I’ve been working a bit on my blocks, I have respect for the sprinters. So, it was all about pacing myself,” Semenya said.

“The last time I did the treble at nationals, the training is okay and we will see if I will do the 400m and 800m.”

Although she is yet to race either the 400m and 800m this season, it is difficult to imagine anyone challenging her in either event. 

Should she cross the line in first place in both the 400m and 800m, she would have won 11 senior national titles since claiming gold in the two-lap event in 2009.

Semenya’s coach Jean Verster said that while his charge had taken an extended break after the 2016 season, she may still be benefiting from the work they did in the preceding two years.

“This time last year she was racing a lot already. It is going well, and hopefully things are going well towards London,” Verster said.

“The work last year and the year before is paying off now. I think the speed will improve, and she can go a lot quicker than this later in the year.”

The Star

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