Caster Semenya has the 800m world record in her sights, but cracked the 600m time on Sunday. Photo: EPA

JOHANNESBURG – Shaving almost a second off the previous mark, Caster Semenya set a new world 600m best at her home away from home at the ISTAF World Challenge in Berlin on Sunday.

Semenya brought her season to an emphatic finish, clocking one minute, 21.77 seconds (1:21.77) to improve the global mark set by Cuba’s Ana Quirot back in 1997.

Lining up at the venue where she won her maiden world two-lap title as a teenager back in 2009, Semenya proved as dominant as she was eight years ago.

Semenya took the race out fast from the gun, making Belarus’ Ilona Usovich role as pacesetter obsolete as she led from start to finish, knocking 0.86 of a second off Quirot’s previous mark.

The South African had familiar competition to contend with in London 800m medallists Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi and American Ajee Wilson. 

She dragged Wilson below the previous world best too, with the American clocking 1:22.39 for second place, with Niyonsaba bagging the bronze in 1:23.18.

Semenya is the second South African this season to set a new world best over an odd distance, after double 400m wold champion Wayde van Niekerk smashed the 300m global mark at the Ostrava Golden Spike meeting in June with a time of 30.81 seconds.

Van Niekerk erased yet another Michael Johnson world mark when he knocked 0.04 off the time the American set in Pretoria back in 2000.

Clarence Munyai set a new world junior best in the same meeting, crossing the line in a time of 31.61.


IOL Sport