CAPE TOWN – Caster Semenya just goes faster and faster!
She was tested right to the finish line, but Semenya produced a record-breaking run to clinch victory at the Diamond League meeting in Monaco on Friday night.
The Olympic champion set a new South African 800m record of 1:55.27, shaving one one-hundredth of a second off her previous mark of 1:55.28, which she ran in grabbing the gold medal in Rio de Janeiro last August.
Semenya was tested all the way at the Stade Louis II stadium in Monaco by Burundian star and Olympic silver medallist Francine Niyonsaba.
Pace-maker Laura Roesler of the USA had taken the field through the first 400m too quickly in 55.31, which saw Semenya lead the rest of the field in second place.
But the quick tempo took a bit out of Semenya, as Niyonsaba ranged up on her outside.
Semenya had to pull out all the stops in the last 50 metres, and did just enough right at the end to win and also produce a new world-leading time for 2017.
MR, WL, DLR, NR for Semenya to win the 800m at #MonacoDL in 1:55.27.
NRs for Niyonsaba & Wilson. pic.twitter.com/8ZaYtEt68i
— IAAF (@iaaforg) July 21, 2017
Niyonsaba set a new Burundian record of 1:55.47, while American Ajee Wilson also celebrated a national mark of 1:55.61.
The other South African Olympic champion competing on the night, Wayde van Niekerk, also didn’t have things all his own way in the 400m, but he had just enough to triumph.
Van Niekerk had two athletes from Botswana, Isaac Makwala and Baboloki Thebe, chasing him all the way.
The 25-year-old went out quickly and was well ahead in the first 200m, but Makwala caught him as they came into the home straight.
The world champion, though, put in the required effort in the last 30 metres to win in 43.73, which was a new meeting record.
Makwala was second in 43.84 and Thebe third with 44.26.