JOHANNESBURG – A defiant Caster Semenya did not allow the latest storm with her in the eye of it throw her off track as she posted the second-fastest 400m time of her career at the SA Student Championships in Sasolburg.
The International Association of Athletics (IAAF) unleashed a worldwide storm when they published the controversial female classification rules which are aimed at women who naturally produce testosterone levels above five nanomoles per litre.
Slow out of the block, Semenya produced a determined run and went toe-to-toe with World Student Games gold medallist Justine Palframan.
A grimacing Semenya pushed hard over the final metres of the race to dip at the line in a time of 50.48sec.
The time was 0.08s off the personal best she posted at the Brussels Diamond League meeting in September 2016 which is still 0.35 short of Heide Quinn’s national record.
Palframan crossed the line in second place, clocking her third fastest time of 51.58 with Ariane Nel finishing third in 54.16.
Semenya initially entered for the 200m sprint race but did not back into the blocks in an event she has only raced once at a senior level.
Palframan set a new South African students 200m record yesterday, improving her previous personal best by 0.01s with a winning time of 22.83 seconds.
The 24-year-old finished well ahead of the second-placed Ariane Nel in 23.73 and Nabeela Parker rounded off the podium for the bronze by clocking the same time.
Short-hurdles specialist Rikenette Steenkamp came painstakingly close to clocking the first ever sub-13 the second time in South Africa.
She equalled her fourth fastest time in the 100m hurdles, clocking a South African Students record of 13.04.
“Last year my first legal time was a 13.27 but I feel a lot fresher now and, when I think back, I did a lot of running last year considering I was out for two years,” Steenkamp said. “I had a whole South African and international season whereas I have had three races in South Africa before a month’s training and then onto the European season.”
Taylon Bieldt finished behind her in second place with a time of 13.78 with Janke van Wyk dipping in third place clocking 13.92.
Ischke Senekal continued her rise in South African throws, improving her personal best by 59 centimetres with an attempt of 17.56m.
Her heave moved her into third place on the South African all-time list and just over a ruler’s length from the national record.
Meanwhile national records tumbled at the CAA Southern Region, Under-20 and Under-18 Championships at Boksburg City Stadium.
Talented young shot-put specialist Kayle Blignaut set a massive new national junior record with a top throw of 21.65m.
The versatile Gontse Morake became the first South African youth athlete to post an effort of over 13 metres with a new personal best of 13.10m, adding to her gold in the 400m hurdles.