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‘Quite happy with the time’: Caster Semenya storms to 3 000m PB in Cape Town

Caster Semenya produced a personal best time to clinch victory in the 3 000m race at the Athletics South Africa Grand Prix at the Green Point Athletics Stadium. Photo: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

Caster Semenya produced a personal best time to clinch victory in the 3 000m race at the Athletics South Africa Grand Prix at the Green Point Athletics Stadium. Photo: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Mar 23, 2022

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Cape Town — Caster Semenya produced a personal best time to clinch victory in the 3 000m race at the Athletics South Africa Grand Prix at the Green Point Athletics Stadium in Cape Town on Wednesday night.

The two-time Olympic 800m champion is pushing to qualify for the world championships in the 5 000m race this year, and used this 3 000m distance to work on her speed.

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Semenya ran in tandem with her good friend Glenrose Xaba for most of Wednesday night’s race in chilly and windy conditions.

But on the third-last lap, she went to the front and charged away from the rest of the field to win in a superb time of eight minutes, 54.97 seconds (8:54.97) — the sixth-fastest time by a South African, beating her previous best of 9:04.20.

The 3 000m national record is held by Elana Meyer, whose mark stands at 8:32.00.

The 31-year-old Semenya will return to Green Point in a few weeks’ time for the South African championships, where she will compete in the 5 000m — and considering the time she produced in the 3 000m on Wednesday, she will be pushing hard for the 5 000m world championship qualifying time of 15:10.00.

Xaba had to settle for third position in a time of 9:12.51, as she was passed by Aynslee van Graan, who grabbed second in 9:09:63.

“We are always happy with performances — as long as you are improving, and you are running PBs, you will always be happy! So, for now, the main goal is just to be better in each and every race we run, so that we can be contenders in the 3km, 5km in the European season,” Semenya told the media track-side.

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“We are quite happy with the time. Xaba pushes hard, went hard, and I thought I would take her with the interchange.

“She took charge and she told me I will pass when I see she is slowing down a bit. We did just that and ran according to plan. Unfortunately the wind was a little bit… hitting us a lot, especially on the home straight.

“The bend was a bit difficult to run, but pushing hard like that always, we get a better result.”

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The big picture, of course, is the world championships in July and August in Eugene, Oregon. “If it comes, it comes. But it is possible, if you are able to run a sub-nine on a 3km, it shows that you are almost like 15:00 on a 5 000m,” Semenya said.

“But for me, it’s not always the goal. The goal is to come back and show up for my people, show that I still have a love for athletics.

“But it would be great if we can do the world champs. At the moment, the goal is to run the African champs.”

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Former junior world champion Sokwakhana Zazini produced the other outstanding performance of the night in the men’s 400m hurdles.

With the strong wind blowing into the athletes’ faces on the home straight, Zazini sped away from the rest of the field to win in a solid time of 49.66 seconds.

Zazini was followed by Lindukuhle Gora (50.62) in second and Leroux Hamman (50.97) in third.

In the men’s 110m hurdles, Antonio Alkana found it tough to run in the blustery wind, which caused him to miss out on a sub-14-second time.

But the African record-holder gradually built his lead in his home town, and was clearly in front at the halfway mark.

His old rival Ruan de Vries tried hard to catch up in the final few metres, but Alkana won comfortably in the end in 14.02 seconds, with De Vries recording 14.08.

Selected Results

Women’s 3 000m

1 Caster Semenya 8:54.97

2 Aynslee van Graan 9:09:63

3 Glenrose Xaba 9:12.51

Women’s 400m Hurdles

1 Zeney van der Walt 56.01

2 Gezelle Magerman 57.68

3 Anje Nel 59.99

Men’s 110m Hurdles

1 Antonio Alkana 14.02

2 Ruan de Vries 14.08

3 Rivaldo Roberts 14.28

Men’s 400m Hurdles

1 Sokwakhana Zazini 49.66

2 Lindukuhle Gora 50.62

3 Leroux Hamman 50.97

Men’s 200m

1 Benjamin Richardson 21.08

2 Theodor Young 21.11

3 Bradley Oliphant 21.21

@ashfakmohamed

IOL Sport

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