Cape Town - It might be an unfamiliar distance, but anytime Caster Semenya steps on to an athletics track, it will be worth watching.
The multiple Olympic 800m champion will be lining up in the 3 000m race at the second Athletics South Africa Grand Prix event at the Green Point Athletics Stadium in Cape Town on Wednesday evening.
The 31-year-old is still awaiting the outcome of her case at the European Court for Human Rights in Strasbourg, France in her fight against World Athletics’ rules for DSD (differences in sexual development) athletes, which forbid them from running in distances between 400m and the mile – unless they follow a series of steps, including taking medication, to lower their naturally occurring high levels of testosterone.
Semenya has rightly refused to go down that path, and in the meantime, is trying to qualify for the world championships later this year in the 5 000m, having missed out on the Tokyo Olympics last year.
So, the 3 000m race today can be seen as a bit of speed work on Semenya’s part as she prepares for the South African championships, which takes place at the same venue next month.
Semenya will be up against good friend Glenrose Xaba, who will look to push her training partner all the way to the line. Considering her speed from the 800m and 1 500m, it will be interesting to see how quickly Semenya can go, although she is unlikely to trouble Elana Meyer’s SA 3 000m record of eight minutes, 32 seconds (8:32.00).
The women’s 400m hurdles is also set to be one of the highlights of the meeting, where former junior world champion Zeney van der Walt will face Gezelle Magerman, who is a former Youth Olympics champion.
In the men’s section, the two hurdles events will also be worth watching. In the 110m hurdles, African champion Antonio Alkana will take on Ruan de Vries again, having won the first race in Bloemfontein last week.
In the 400m hurdles, Sokhwakhana Zazini is the favourite, but he will be challenged by Leroux Hamman and Lindukuhle Gora.
In the field, the men’s high jump will be an exciting duel between former junior star Breyten Poole and Mpho Links, while Victor Hogan is in the discus field.
The event will start at 6pm, and be broadcast live on channel 209.