Caster Semenya on her way to victory in the women’s 400 metres race at the Kamila Skolimowska Memorial meeting in Chorzow, Poland, on Wednesday. Photo: EPA
South African track phenomenon Caster Semenya will have to contend with a hectic travel schedule if she wants to earn both the women’s 800 and 1500 metres IAAF Diamond League trophies later this week.

Semenya will be looking to become the first women’s athlete to be crowned overall champion of the series in both events.

She will not only have to navigate past the best athletes in the respective events but will have to get from Zurich to Brussels hours after competing in the Swiss city.

Organisers have scheduled the two Diamond League finals a day after each other, making it an obstacle race for athletes like Semenya.

The winners of each event will earn the Diamond Trophy and a US$50,000 cash prize. So Semenya could be walking away with a good pay day if she manages to get onto the podium in both events.

Semenya has juggled between the 800 and the 1500m this season in the Diamond League while she has also raced in the odd one-lap sprint.

The three-time world 800m champion broke the national 400m record at the African Athletics Championships in Asaba, Nigeria, earlier this month by chopping 0.09 seconds off the mark Heide Seyerling set at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

In the process, she became the first woman in history to dip below 50 seconds, two minutes, and four minutes in the 400, 800 and 1500m respectively.

Semenya has been a dominant force in the two-lap event and would complete a three-year unbeaten run in the 800m should she win in Zurich.

She posted the fourth fastest time of all time at the Paris Diamond League meeting in a new national record of 1min 54.25sec.

Shifting between the 800 and the 1500m has cost her some ranking points and she is second in the two-lap standings behind perennial challenger Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi.

She is ranked joint seventh in the 1500m courtesy of her victory at the opening Diamond League meeting in Doha where she became the first South African female to dip below four minutes in a three-and-a-quarter lap race.

Long jump world champion Luvo Manyonga is the only South African who tops the standings in an event.

Manyonga will be feeling bullish about his chances of winning his second consecutive Diamond Trophy after leaping to a meeting record of 8.53m in Birmingham last weekend.

He will be joined by compatriot Ruswahl Samaai, who beat him at the African Championships in Nigeria to successfully defend his continental title.

African 100m champion Akani Simbine is ranked fourth in the short sprint event with 18 points after claiming two podium places.

Ronnie Baker, who clocked a world lead of 9.87 seconds last week, leads the series with 31 points.

Half-lap specialist Luxolo Adams is among the top eight in the 200m and could round off a spectacular breakthrough campaign with a place in the final.

South African women’s 100m record-holder Carina Horn also made it into the season finale after racing in four events.

She opened in Doha with her best result being a fifth and becoming the first South African woman to dip below 11 seconds, clocking 10.98.

One-lap hurdler Wenda Nel has also finished among the top eight despite a lacklustre season.

The final start lists for the two finals on Thursday and Friday will be confirmed early in the week.


Sunday Independent

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