Caster Semenya eyes Zola Budd's 33-year-old record
Caster Semenya believes she will have a chance to break Zola Budd’s 33-year-old record in the women’s 1500m final at the world championships in London on Monday night.
Semenya qualified comfortably for the final by finishing third in her semifinal on Saturday evening in 4min 03.80sec‚ a little slower than her 4:03.84 in the heats.
But the Olympic 800m champion believes her rivals — featuring Olympic 1500m gold medallist Faith Kipyegon of Kenyan‚ Ethiopia’s world record-holder Genzebe Dibaba‚ Dutch flyer Sifan Hassan and home favourite Laura Muir — will try to attack and run her off her feet.
And that could get her inside the 4:01.81 Budd ran in Port Elizabeth in March‚ 1984.
“I think that one will come in the final because I can see what they’re trying to do‚ they’re trying to stretch us‚” said Semenya‚ who ran her 4:01.99 personal best unchallenged while winning the African title in Durban last year.
Semenya is SA’s next best chance to add to the two medals won by long-jumpers Luvo Manyonga and Ruswahl Samaai on the second night of the showpiece on Saturday night.
Manyonga took gold with his second leap of the night as he catapulted himself to 8.48m. American Jarrion Lawson was second on 8.44m and Samaai third on 8.32m.
SA’s best championship haul to date is four medals‚ with two golds‚ at Paris 2003‚ and already the team is halfway there with Semenya and Wayde van Niekerk still to compete in medal events.
Van Niekerk‚ Antonio Alkana and Carina Horn lead SA’s charge on Sunday.
Alkana is up first‚ competing in the 110m hurdles heats at 2.15pm (SA time).
Horn goes next‚ racing in the 100m semifinals (8.10pm) as she tries to win a spot in the final in the final event of the night.
Van Niekerk competes in the 400m semifinals at 8.40pm and Alkana‚ as long as he advances past the heats‚ will line up again in the hurdles semifinals at 9.10pm.