Semenya remains SA gold medal prospect

BY MARC JACOBSON - AUGUST 17, 2016

South Africa’s Caster Semenya will take to the track in the women’s 800-metre at the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games at 16:02PM (SA time) in a much anticipated event.

Placed at the centre of gender testing controversies due to significant testosterone levels, Semenya will heed much attentiveness from all fans, journalists and officials alike as the Olympic Games winds down.

The aforementioned controversies gained swift momentum after IAAF President, Sebastian Coe, just last week questioned the merits of a Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) decision to put a stop to regulating the testosterone levels in female athletes.

The underlying factor, however, may not be what she actually achieves on track in these Olympic Games for Team South Africa as a whole, but what negative limelight these controversies may bring to her as a competing athlete.

Semenya will most certainly aim for gold and has all the potential to do so, but how the media and fans react to it will be another scenario for telling circumstances. The current 800-metre women’s world record is 1:53.28, set by Czechoslovakian Jarmila Kratochvilova in 1983, and Semenya will have her sights sternly-set to break the 33-year-standing record.

Since her professional track career began in 2008 at the age of just 17, Semenya’s personal best for the 800-metre to date is 1:55.33, which she achieved in Monaco 15th July this year. Her previous best was set in 2009 in Berlin with a time of 1:55.45.

Out of the nine professional 800-metre races that Caster partook in since 2008, her average time is 1:58.66. This, however, seems injustice to her potential in the midst of all the controversies and off-track friction that has presided over her career.

A gold medal obtained from Semenya, is nonetheless still a gold medal no different from others and it remains a hopeful and promising target for Team South Africa to achieve. In the London 2012 Olympic Games, Semenya won a silver medal with a time of 1:57.23.

Caster Semenya’s 800-metre race will shoot off at 16:02PM in Heat Two where she will run in lane number four. Her competitors for this heat qualifier will be: Margarita Matsko Mukasheva (Kazakhstan- lane one), Claudia Bobocea (Romania- lane two), Wang Chunyu (China- lane three), Shelayna Oskan-Clarke (Great Britain- lane five), Rababe Arafi (Morocco- lane six), Houleye Ba (Mauritania- lane seven) and Rose Nathike Lokonyen (Refugee Olympic Athletes- lane eight).