DOHA – Caster Semenya comes under the spotlight in Doha on Friday, hopefully for all the right reasons, as the IAAF Diamond League begins in Qatar.
The focus of new IAAF rules to counteract hyperandrogenism (the medical condition causing women to produce high levels of male sex hormones), while Semenya’s own focus will be on the 1500 metre event.
She races the 1500m, a distance where she set a new Commonwealth Games and national record of 4min 00.71sec on the Gold Coast of Australia just over three weeks ago.
She’s one of five South Africans in action, the others being triple jumper Khotso Mokoena, 400m specialist Pieter Conradie, 400m hurdler Cornel Fredericks and 100m sprinter Carina Horn.
A field of 15 women are entered for the 1500m and three of them have run quicker than Semenya’s quickest, although significantly, none of them this year.
Semenya is quickest in the field this season but Kenya’s Winny Chebet has the fastest personal best at 3:59.16. The meeting record is an impressive 3:56.60, set by Sweden’s Abeba Aregawi five years ago.
The race is scheduled for 6.13pm SA time.
Mokoena is first of the South Africans in action as his event starts at 5.40pm. His personal best of 17.35m is seventh best of the field of 11.
Ten minutes before Semenya’s race, Conradie goes off in the men’s one-lapper and he’s up against a stellar field which includes Botswana’s Commonwealth gold and silver medallists, Isaac Makwala and Baboloki Thebe.
On to Horn and three-hundredths of a second might not sound like a big deal but if you’re a sprinter duelling it out against a stopwatch it could feel like forever. Maybe Horn will dip under 11 seconds on Friday.
In March, Horn set a new national record at the national championships, running 11.03. What a lot of fans might not know is that it took her three years to do so.
In 2015 she equalled Evette de Klerk’s record time of 11.06 but try as she did she wasn’t able to clock faster times until now.
Schedule of SA athletes:
5.50pm - triple jump men, Khotso Mokoena
6.03pm - 400m men, Pieter Conradie
6.13pm - 1 500m women Caster Semenya
6.26pm - 100m women, Carina Horn
6.53pm - 400m hurdles men, Cornel Fredericks.
African News Agency (ANA)