JOHANNESBURG – Zola Budd’s South African 1500m record will face another assault from three-time world champion Caster Semenya tonight, a day after the 34-year anniversary of the record.
Lining up against Semenya in tonight's three-and-three-quarter lap event at the third leg of the Liquid Telecom Athletix Grand Prix Series, middle distance ace Dominique Scott-Efurd believes she will have a front-row seat in what could be a historic race.
“I was expecting to see her today and chat tactics and see where I can help her because I would be proud of just being in a race that breaks the South African record,” Scott-Efurd said. “Caster has been running so well, I’ve been so impressed with her three races last weekend.
“It wasn’t written up much because I think Caster does a lot of impressive things but for me to run two, sub-two-minute 800s in one weekend, by herself, with no pacers - that is amazing.”
Semenya came painstakingly close to breaking Budd’s 1,500m record of 4:01.81 at the 2016 Africa Athletics Championships in Durban She stopped the clock 0.18 seconds short of the record Budd set back in 1986.
The South African middle-distance phenomenon has had her sights on posting a sub-50 time in the 400m and going under four minutes in the 1500m for some time.
This would make her the first female in history to dip below 50 seconds, two minutes, and four minutes in the 400m, 800m, and 1500m respectively.
But as Scott-Efurd points out, Semenya’s performances in Pretoria suggests she could dip below four minutes tonight.
Boasting a personal best of 4:08.04, Scott-Efurd is no slouch either and she hopes to help Semenya reach the milestone and in the process set a new personal best.
“I’m not really sure how much I can help her because she has a PB of 4:01 and I have one of 4:07, it is quite a big difference with six seconds,” Scott-Efurd said. “She’s asked for no pacer which makes me believe she doesn’t want anyone getting in her way and it makes me believe that she thinks she can run a 4:01 or quicker by herself.”
Racing in Paarl is some sort of a homecoming for the Cape Town-born Scott-Efurd, who has been based in the United States for the last six years. She said her rivalry with Semenya goes as far back as 2008 when they lined up against each other in the South African junior championships.
“I think I was in Grade 10 and Caster was a year older than me, I was hoping to win the 1500m but I came second to her,” Scott-Efurd said. “It was probably the closest it has ever been which was about two metres back then, since then she has gone on to become Olympic and world champion.
“It is pretty cool that we are now teammates and representing South Africa.”
The third and final leg of the inaugural Athletix Grand Prix Series will feature a top-class 100m race which includes South African record-holder Akani Simbine taking on local boy Henricho Buintjies.
Simon Magakwe will have his tail up after winning his seventh South African title over the weekend while junior SA record-holder Thando Dlodlo will be looking for some big-name scalps.
World Youth high jump champion Breyton Poole will also be one of the star attractions at the meet where he will fancy his chances on his home track.
Poole won the world title in Nairobi where he leapt to a new personal best 2.24m to win gold before adding another centimetre to equal Jacques Freitag’s age-group record.