JOHANNESBURG – With the sweet taste of her first 800-1500m double gold still lingering, Caster Semenya says she will be looking for a repeat at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Semenya became only the third female athlete to win the double at the Commonwealth Games racing to victory in her specialist two-lap event on Friday in a time of 1:56.68.
South Africa’s greatest female track athlete ever added the 800m gold to the 1500m title she won earlier in the week.
“For these four years (Olympic cycle) the target has been to double at each and every championship, we need to run at least four championships in doubles then decide if I still have the speed for the 800m,” Semenya said. “If I still have the speed in the 800m I will continue but if not then I will go farther, you still have the 5000m and the 10000m.
“I believe I can still do better in the future, I am still only 27 and when I do my long runs I feel I can feed into distance running.”
She was never bothered in her two-lap race leading from start to finish going through the bell in 58.66 seconds.
Perennial challenger Margaret Wambui of Kenya finished second in 1:58.07 with Jamaican Natoya Goule rounding off the podium in 1:58.82.
Semenya won her first major 1500m title in style on Tuesday when she broke Zola Budd’s 34-year-old record with a time of 4:00.71.
The 27-year-old follows in the footsteps of Kenyan Lancy Langat and Welshwoman Kirsty Wade, who won both the 800m and 1500m titles at the 2010 Delhi Games and in Edinburgh 1986 respectively.
Semenya claimed a rare 800-1500m gold-bronze double at last year’s global championships in London repeating Russia’s Svetlana Masterkova feat from Seville 1999.
Showing superb early-season form Semenya said if she would go after the 800m world record it would only happen a bit later in the season.
Her personal best of 1:55.16 she posted at last year’s IAAF World Championships in London moved into eighth place on the world all-time list edging the South African closer to Czech Jarmila Kratochvilova’s global mark of 1:53.28 from 1983.
She also needs to chop another second off her South African record to get close to Pamela Jelimo of Kenya’s continental record of 1:54.01.
“I can’t discuss the world record, it is still early, it is still April and we have never raced a championship in April,” Semenya said. “If we talk about the world record, it will probably be in three to four months from now, but I am not guaranteed of that.
“The world record is not that important to me at the moment but to win every race that I run, my idols have done that, and I just want to walk in their footsteps.”
Semenya said she would now turn her focus to the European season and the African Championships where she was still undecided whether she will double up again.
Meanwhile, South Africa will have two more chances of adding silverware to South Africa’s medal tally on the last day of the track and field events.
The South African 4x100m relay quartet of Akani Simbine, Henricho Bruintjies, Anaso Jobodwana and Emile Erasmus nearly fumbled their chances of reaching Saturday’s final.
The second changeover between Erasmus and Jobodwana nearly ended in tears when the latter started running too early.
In the end, Erasmus had to stretch to get the baton to Jobodwana, who handed the baton over newly crowned Commonwealth 100m champion Simbine.
Simbine had some ground to make up on Australian Josh Clarke but he managed to move past him to win the heat with a time of 38.71 to advance to the final.
“Because of a slight misunderstanding between Anaso and me we lost a few valuable hundredths of a second in the changeover,” said Tuks sprinter Emile Erasmus. “We will work on it today. If we get that sorted, I am sure we will run a faster time in tomorrow's final. It is amazing to be in a relay-team with ‘okes’ who are so committed to succeeding. We all got one goal, and that is to win a medal for South Africa."
African javelin champion Phil-Mar Janse van Rensburg qualified for the final qualifying with a throw of 78.00m, two-and-a-half metres short of his personal best.