fast little loans
Olympic Stadium, London - Caster Semenya, the woman who has lived under a cloud for much of her short, professional career, on Saturday night provided a silver lining for the Rainbow Nation as she won silver in the Olympic 800-metres final with a late surge to overtake all but one of her competitors.
The Russian Mariya Savinova, who celebrates her 27th birthday on Monday, won in a time of 1:56;19, with Semenya running a season best of 1:57;23. Another Russian, Ekaterina Poistogova, was third, just three-tenths of a second behind Semenya.
With just over a quarter of her race left to run, it looked like Semenya had left it too late. But then the 21-year old from Ga-Masehlong, who had running in eighth place at the back of the field, showed the enormous kick that has become her trademark to make this South Africa’s most successful Olympic Games since the return from isolation.
The three golds, two silvers and a bronze overtakes the haul from Atlanta in 1996 by one silver medal, with the hope that there may be more to come in the mountain biking and marathon today.
Semenya stuck with the tactics she had used in the heats, the ones her coach, Maria Mutola, the former 800m Olympic champion, described thus on Friday: “In 800m you need to be able to run a fast race, and you need to be able to win a tactical slow race,” Mutola told BBC Africa.
It looked like she had run too slow, and was lagging well back as they went throught the first lap. She kicked hard with 250-metres left and flew past the rest of the tiring pack.
It was not the strongest kick of the night. That title goes to Mo Farah, the British athlete who left Somalia as a child. Seb Coe said before the weekend that he wanted a final big moment from Team GB. Farah’s win in the 5 000 was it. He slid into the lead in the latter stages and, initially, it looked like he had lit the flame too early and that his candle would die before time, but he dug deep, holding off the challenge of Thomas Longosiwa of Kenya, finding a kick in the last 100-metres and holding on to it when Ethiopia’s Hagos Gebremeskel overtook Longosiwa and pushed him to the line. It was a magnificent run. A run for the ages.
As a man who has a foot in both disabled and able-bodied sport, so to speak, Oscar Pistorius will be able to experience what a select view will get to – the chance to compete at the highest level in the two biggest multi-sport events in the world. In 17 days time he will return to the Olympic Stadium for the opening ceremony of the Paralympics, buoyed by making history as the first double amputee to take part in the Olympics.
He was still coming to terms with it on Friday night an hour or so after he had run in the 4x400-metres final. South Africa had finished eighth from nine teams, and while there was disappointment at the performance, there was satisfaction at having been able to compete in the final. For a while it looked as though they would not make it after Ofentse Mogawane had his legs clipped by the Kenyan, Vincent Kiilu, as he switched from the inside lane to the outside. Kenya were disqualified, and South Africa were granted the extra spot in the final, using lane one
“This week has just been one of the biggest blessings for me,” said Pistorius. “It’s taught me a lot. I’ve been inspired by so many athletes. Just to have had that opportunity to step outside, it’s been absolutely phenomenal. I’m sure in a week I’m going to have the same emotions that I’m going to have in 40 or 50 years’ time. It’s a dream come true. It’s the most amazing experience of my life, and it will inspire and motivate me for the next four years. Just to take part has been great.”
Pistorius is the favourite to defend his 200m and 400m titles, while he may have a battle on in the 100m. He is also hopeful of winning a fourth gold in the 4x100m relay.
“I am really looking forward to them. I think they will be the best ever.
“It makes me stoked to come out here in this stadium again. My job at the end of the day is to run. We’ve got the Paralympics in three weeks and I’m so proud to be a Paralympian. There are so many athletes just like myself who sacrifice things day in and day out.”