Caster Semenya crosses the line well clear of Francine Niyonsaba in Oslo on Thursday. Photo: @Diamond_League via Twitter

It was one of the strongest fields assembled. In fact, it was pretty close to the one that stood on the line in the 800m Rio Olympic final last August.

But, in the end, the result was the same – Caster Semenya dominated her rivals to cruise to victory at the Diamond League event in Oslo on Thursday night.

In a star-studded field that included all three medallists from Brazil last year – Semenya, Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi and Kenya’s Margaret Wambui – it was set to be a good test for the South African champion ahead of the world championships in London in August.

Even the controversial British runner Lynsey Sharp – who insulted Semenya with some unsavoury comments about her gender in the aftermath of the Olympics – was in the field, along with Canadian Melissa Bishop, the duo who hugged each other on the track and ignored Semenya when the South African tried to greet them.

Well, Semenya had the last laugh then, and it was the same outcome in Oslo on Thursday.

The 26-year-old stayed in the bunch on the first lap, biding her time. Eventually Niyonsaba made her move at the bell and stretched the field, and Semenya was soon on her shoulder around the 600m mark.

Coming into the home straight, there was only going to be one winner as Semenya stormed past her fellow African to finish in a time of 1:57.59, well clear of Niyonsaba in a season’s best of 1:58.18, and Wambui in 1:59.17.

Bishop ended fifth, and Sharp eighth…

Semenya wasn’t the only South African in action as 400m hurdler LJ van Zyl ended seventh in 49.89, as local hero Karsten Warholm set a new Norwegian record of 48.25 as he was cheered on by the home crowd.

Other South Africans in Oslo were 400m runner Pieter Conradie (sixth in 46.16), with Botswana’s Baboloki Thebe winning in 44.95, while Rynhardt van Rensburg won a non-Diamond League 800m with a time of 1:48.98, with Henco Uys third in 1:49.56.

In the men’s 100m, Canadian Olympic bronze medallist Andre de Grasse took the honours in 10.01, just edging out Chijindu Ujah (UK, 10.02) and Ivory Coast’s Ben Youssef Meite (10.03).


IOL Sport

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