JOHANNESBURG – Caster Semenya made a successful return to the track, racing to victory in the rarely run 2000m in Montreuil, France on Tuesday night but is yet to line up in her favourite events.
The South African phenom came within a whisker of setting a new national record over the distance, winning in a time of 5:38.19. She stopped the clock 0.12s off the record Zola Budd set in Cape Town in April 1991.
It was Semenya’s first race since the IAAF’s controversial female eligibility rules were implemented last month.
Semenya was last week given a reprieve from the rules when the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland ordered the IAAF to suspend its eligibility rules while Semenya’s appeal is pending.
Speaking after the race, Semenya said she had no interest in discussing the appeal and would rather stay in her lane and perform on the track.
“I’m not going to talk about the appeal, I have a lawyer, I have a team. I am an athlete, the only thing I focus on is my performance,” she told Reuters.
Semenya has been given the go-ahead to compete without taking any testosterone-lowering medication in the restricted 400m to mile events.
This could be overturned with the Swiss court giving the IAAF until June 25 to give submissions supporting why the rules should not be suspended.
The rule bans athletes with Differences of Sexual Development (DSD) from competing in the restricted events unless they lower their testosterone concentration to less than five nanomoles per litre of blood.
Semenya remained defiant, saying she would not be deterred by the rules and would compete in sprint events or take on longer distances which fall outside the IAAF restrictions.
“I can run any distance I want. I don’t have time for nonsense, I don’t have time for messages for anyone. I said a long time ago that I’m going to focus on myself,” Semenya said.
“There will always be people who will provoke you, but I’m always going to stay positive."
Semenya was measured in her first international 2000m race, leading from start to finish, paying no mind to the two pace-setters in front of her in wet conditions.
Although Semenya is cleared to race in her favoured 800m and 1500m distances, she is yet to get an invitation.
She has not been included in the 800m fields for the next two Diamond League meetings in Oslo and Rabat today and Sunday respectively.
Semenya is set to line up in a 3000m race at the end of this month at the Prefontaine Classic in Stanford, in the US.@ockertde