Centurion - While Caster Semenya is determined to qualify for the world championships, winning more medals is no longer driving her.
The 31-year-old two-time Olympic 800m champion produced a superb run in the 3 000m at the Athletics South Africa Grand Prix at Green Point Athletics Stadium on Wednesday that had the boisterous crowd cheering her every step.
Semenya clocked a new personal best of eight minutes 54.97 seconds – the sixth-fastest by a South African – and beat her previous best of 9:04.20 in cold, windy conditions. The SA 3000m record of 8:32.00 was set by Elana Meyer in 1991.
It was more of a training run for Semenya as she is preparing for the 5000m at the SA championships next month, also at Green Point, where she will hope to better the qualifying time of 15:10 to make it to the Eugene, Oregon, world championships in July and August.
Semenya may even contest the 10 000m at the championships.
“We must just be prepared, especially because we will be doing the 5km, maybe the 10km, we don’t know,” she said.
“Not really (considering the 10 000m) – it depends on the timetable. Maybe we do it, maybe we don’t. The coach will decide. We still have to learn a lot about it, but we will decide when we decide.
“I’m always confident about what I’m doing. My results always make me happy, because it’s what I’ve worked for. I cannot go with other people’s expectations, and at the end of the day, I do what I can do.”
The three-time world champion still has a case at the European Court for Human Rights as she is challenging World Athletics regulations for DSD (differences in sexual development) athletes, which prevent her from racing her preferred distances (400m to one mile).
🏅 Double Olympic champion Caster Semenya won the 3000m race clocking a new personal best time of eight minutes and 54.97 seconds in the process ⏱— SuperSport 🏆 (@SuperSportTV) March 24, 2022
But coaching has become her new passion, having established the Masai Athletics Club in Pretoria a few years ago.
“My focus is to be here to help my athletes, so that they can be better. My coaching is my primary goal at the moment, and being able to plough back to the athletes and work on the foundation, so that I can change lives.
“I made peace a long time ago with the situation – that’s why you see me back here running. My focus is just to be better, to make sure my fans are always cheering. They want to see me back on the track… That’s the goal, that’s what I’m doing.
“I’m a two-time Olympic champion and a three-time world champ. As long as you remember my accolades… there’s nothing to worry about. There’s no doubt that I’m the best that’s ever done it!
“I coach about 18 athletes… Masai Athletics Club is a community club. You want to create opportunities for those other athletes who cannot get it, especially in the bigger clubs.
“If you look at the affiliations, they cannot afford that: they don’t have clothes, they don’t have accommodation, so for me, I just want to bring change.”