PRETORIA – This weekend’s South African Senior Track and Field Championships will mark a decade of excellence for Caster Semenya.
The two-time Olympic gold medallist will be lining up in Germiston for the national championships 10 years after she won her maiden SA title.
Semenya will make her appearance at the championships on the eve of the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) ruling that will determine her fate in the sport.
CAS are set to decide over the next week or so, following Semenya’s challenge to the IAAF’s proposed female eligibility rules.
Semenya challenged the rules during a five-day hearing in Lausanne, Switzerland last month.
The international sports court was supposed to make its final decision last month, but the decision was postponed to the end of April after the parties filed additional submissions and materials.
The IAAF’s controversial regulations will require women with naturally elevated levels of testosterone to lower it to below five nanomoles for at least six months.
The policy will only affect athletes who compete in the distances between 400 metres and one mile, which are the events Semenya excels in on the global stage.
Semenya opened her season at the Gauteng North Championships in Pretoria last month, 10 days before CAS were initially expected to make their ruling.
She raced to victory in the 1 500m in a time of four minutes 14.69 seconds (4:14.69) before making a rare appearance in the 5 000m.
Semenya won the 5 000m in a time of 16:11.59, beating Glenrose Xaba into second place.
It is 10 years since Semenya won her first SA 800m title as a mere teenager in Stellenbosch.
She won the race in a time of 2:03.16, which did little to predict the impending storm that would erupt at the 2008 world championships in Berlin later that year.
Semenya went on to win her first of three global titles, shattering the SA 800m record with a time of 1:55.45.
The unsavoury gender verification debacle ensued, which brings us back to the point where Semenya is once again under scrutiny.
Last meal before nationals, we level up like this!! 😇 pic.twitter.com/fqWvR84RcG— Caster Semenya (@caster800m) April 24, 2019
Semenya has won a total of 13 individual national titles over the last 10 years – eight in the 800m, three in the 1 500m and two in the 400m .
Three years ago, she claimed a rare golden treble, winning the national 400m, 800m and 1 500m titles in Stellenbosch.
Semenya last week ruled out any chances of a repeat at this year’s championships, but she will still be lining up as a favourite, whether it is in the 400m, 800m or 1 500m.
The 28-year-old is believed to have her sights on the 800m-1 500m double at this year’s world championships, which should guide her decision over the weekend.@ockertde