LONDON – Stumbling over the line in third place, Olympic 800m champion Caster Semenya added the world 1 500m bronze medal to her growing list of accolades after a gutsy run in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London on Monday night.
Taking the race out in a relatively slow pace, it played into the South African’s hands, but she nearly left it late as she tumbled after crossing the line in a time of four minutes, 02.90 seconds (4:02.90).
Halfway through the final bend, Olympic champion Faith Kipyegon and Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands kicked, with the rest of the field hot in pursuit.
Hassan blew unceremoniously, with Kipyegon dipping first at the line in a time of 4:02.59, with American Jennifer Simpson snatching the silver by beating off an advancing Semenya to finish second in 4:02.76.
Semenya’s third-place finish is South Africa’s third medal of the championships, adding to long-jumpers Luvo Manyonga and Ruswahl Samaai’s respective gold and bronze medals.
This sets Semenya up for a rare double at the championships as she will next line-up in the 800m, where she is the overwhelming favourite.
Meanwhile, in a show of confidence, Wayde van Niekerk glanced and smiled at British sprinter Daniel Talbot to his right before crossing the line to book a lane in Wednesday evening’s 200m semi-finals.
He will be joined by close friend Akani Simbine – who featured in Saturday evening’s dramatic 100m final, where he finished in fifth place in 10.01.
Van Niekerk took one giant leap towards realising his dream of winning the 200m/400m double gold at the championships after qualifying for Tuesday night’s 400m final, where he will defend his world title.
Van Niekerk effortlessly sailed out of the bend and into the straight, with Talbot staying alongside him every step of the way, with the duo crossing the line practically holding hands and both clocking 20.16.
The South African came into the championships with the second fastest time this year, with the national record of 19.84 set at the Racers Grand Prix in Jamaica in June.
Van Niekerk got a shot in the arm in his pursuit of the golden double after Botswana’s dangerman Isaac Makwala pulled out of the 200m heats due to food poisoning.
Makwala went into the championships as 2017’s top performer following the 19.77 posted in Madrid last month.
Simbine has been battling with a hip impingement, and there were doubts about whether he would line up in the 200m race.
The South African 100m record-holder nevertheless backed into the blocks, where he breezed into the half-lap semi-final and finished second behind Isiah Young of the United States in a time of 20.26.
“It is holding up, I’m getting treatment every day, so we are managing at the moment,” Simbine said.
“The 200m for me is a more enjoyable race because I don’t have as much pressure as the 100m… I don’t put so much expectation on myself.
“I just said to my body ‘Let’s go and run, and see what you can put out’.”
It initially appeared as if South Africa would have three sprinters in the semi-finals after national junior 200m record-holder Clarence Munyai crossed the line in third place in his heat in 20.19, but he was disqualified for a lane violation.
The 19-year-old stepped over the inside line as he came out of the bend before appealing the disqualification, which was upheld.
Women’s 400m hurdles ace Wenda Nel marched into Tuesday’s semi-finals, finishing second in her heat with a time of 55.47.