Experience the key to good form, says Caster Semenya
Semenya beat two world-class athletes to win the women’s 300m at the Sasol-NWU International Athletics meeting in Sasolburg in a time of 37.22 seconds, just 0.20 short of Heide Quinn’s national record from 2000.
The Olympic 800m gold medallist has bossed the opposition from a distance event to the odd sprint event over the span of a month.
Semenya opened her season with a new personal best in the 3 000m in Potchefstroom before laying down the marker in Sasolburg on Tuesday evening.
It was a remarkable achievement as she beat 2011 world 400m champion Amantle Montsho of Botswana, and South African 400m hurdles ace Wenda Nel.
Although Semenya admits she started her training programme relatively late this year, she looks in surprisingly good shape this early in the season.
A leaner-looking Semenya looked comfortable running from lane one on a cool autumn evening in the Vaal Triangle as she once again demonstrated a superior finish.
“I’m a 36-second runner in the 300m, of course I have never run it in competition, but more in training where I am able to run splits of 36 seconds,” Semenya said.
“To run a 37 out of the blocks is fantastic because normally I run off a flying start so that is a reasonable time.”
On her early season form, Semenya said she was finally using the experience she had gained over the years to her advantage.
“I am more experienced now, I know what is good for my body, I don’t panic anymore when it comes to training,” Semenya said.
“We are a month behind, and all I am doing now is to try to play catch-up, but I also believe I still have the advantage from last year - that little bit of speed left in the body.”
Semenya’s coach, Jean Verster, said his charge was psyched up for the race knowing she would be racing against Montsho and Nel.
“I thought she would race around 38 seconds and maybe just under; she is a fighter and a racer,” Verster said.
“Look, she is far behind from previous years, we started at least a month late and she deserved the break.
“Preparations are going well towards London (World Championships)I think the work we did last year and the year before is paying off now.”
Verster said the focus for Semenya would remain on the 800m but 2017 is also considered a “fun year” post Olympic Games.
He said Semenya would look to do a few 400m and 1500m races this year which could tie in with her dream of becoming the first female to run a sub-50 time in the half-lap sprint, dip below 1:55 in her specialist 800m event, and clock a sub-four minute time in the 1500m.
Earlier, rising female hammer throw prospect Letitia Janse van Vuuren improved the national record she set last month by almost three metres.
She uncorked a best heave of 63.82m in the home of hammer-throw legend and training partner Chris Harmse.
“It felt good, the first time I didn’t expect it but this time I felt better prepared and I knew I could do it,” Janse van Vuuren said.