JOHANNESBURG – Winning gold at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, will put Caster Semenya one step closer to completing her collection of accolades.
The three-time world champion and Olympic gold medallist will be going to her maiden Commonwealth Games with her sights firmly set on the 800/1500m double.
“Us athletes have goals and the ultimate goal is to be able to medal in each in every major championship,” Semenya said ahead of the team’s departure for the Games.
“Obviously the collection of medals is the most important thing.
“If you are able to win gold in each and every major championships it also shows the character and it ranks you among the greatest of all times.”
Semenya claimed a rare 800/1500m gold/bronze double at last year’s London world champs, repeating Russian Svetlana Masterkova's feat from Seville 1999.
“It is my dream to strive for greatness and it is just unbelievable where I am today looking back to 2006 when I started the 800 metres,” said Semenya, who will be South Africa’s flag bearer at the Games.
“I have won the Olympics, world championships, All Africa Games and all I have left is the Commonwealth Games and I will try by all means to have that whole collection.”
The 27-year-old will be looking to follow in the footsteps of Kenyan Nancy Langat, who won both the 800 and 1500m at the 2010 Delhi Games, and Welshwoman Kirsty Wade in Edinburgh in 1986.
“I’m not saying I’m going to win because you still have to go through heats and semis, but as an athlete you need to believe and I believe I can do it,” Semenya said.
“If the lady from Kenya (Langat) once did it, I can do it, but you have to remember in the championship it is not about time but about who can run a good race.”
Semenya has had a good start to her season with two sub-two minute 800m races in two days at the national championships.
She ran 1min 58.92sec in her heat before clocking her fastest time ever on home soil, a world leading 1:57.80, to win the final.
At last year’s world champs she had to work hard for 1500m bronze which she snatched in the dying moments of the race in 4:02.90.
Semenya was still seen as inexperienced in the two-and-three-quarter lap race but she believes she has learned valuable lessons.
“It is a tougher race to run but... coming from the world championships we’ve learned from that race,” she said.
“I think we’ve mastered the art of running the 1500 and I don’t think it would be a problem.
“I’ve run a 4:10 and a 4:02 on my own, taking the lead from the start, which shows I have improved. All I need to do now is to go and execute and secure my gold.”
She has shown great improvement this season when she won the 1500m SA title in 4:10.68 before a creditable 4:02.50 in the final leg of the Liquid Telecom Grand Prix in Paarl.