Flag-bearer Semenya vows to win double gold at Commonwealth Games

27 March 2018 - 11:31 By David Isaacson
Caster Semenya competes in the Women Senior 1000m at the Athletix Grand Prix Athletics Series at Tuks Stadium, Pretoria on 08 March 2018.
Caster Semenya competes in the Women Senior 1000m at the Athletix Grand Prix Athletics Series at Tuks Stadium, Pretoria on 08 March 2018.
Image: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Caster Semenya has vowed to win two gold medals at the Commonwealth Games in Australia next month.

Semenya made the pledge at a farewell function organised by the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) on Monday night‚ when she was named flag-bearer for the opening ceremony in Gold Coast on April 4.

This is the third time Semenya has been called on to carry the South African flag‚ having done the duty at the closing ceremony of the 2016 Rio Olympics and the 2012 London Olympics opening ceremony.

Sascoc president Gideon Sam has said he wants Team SA to return to fifth place on the Games medals table after dropping to seventh at Glasgow 2014‚ but to do that they will need an estimated 15 gold medals — and that‚ he added‚ would require the stars to win double golds.

Accepting her role as flag-bearer‚ Semenya‚ who will compete in the 800m and 1500m‚ said: “I’m truly honoured ...

"We lead by example‚ two gold for me.”

Semenya is the reigning Olympic and world champion in the 800m‚ but in the longer race she won the bronze medal at the 2017 world championships in London.

“It’s a tougher race‚” she admitted‚ “but with the work that we’ve done coming back from the world champs‚ we have learned from that race that we ran and we have mastered the skills of running 1500 ...

“What I need to do now is go execute‚ secure my gold‚” she added with a laugh.

The double at Gold Coast won’t be as demanding as it was at the 2017 world championships with only two rounds — heats and final — in the 800m and 1500m‚ instead of three rounds each.

Semenya‚ confident of a 4min 02.50sec world lead while running on her own in Paarl last week‚ said she had been working hard for the past five months‚ bringing her weight down as well.

“Middle distance is a combination of speed and endurance ... you need to be light. We are under 70kg so we are good contenders‚” she said‚ adding she doesn’t watch her diet.

“I eat whatever I want. It’s not about what you eat‚ it’s about hard work‚ the kilometres you run.”

Semenya has won gold at the Olympics‚ world championships and the Africa Games‚ but she has never competed at a Commonwealth Games before.

“It’s my dream‚ I strive for greatness ... the only thing left is Commonwealth Games‚ which I’ll try by all means to make sure I have that collection.”

Some top foreign athletes don’t rate the Commonwealth Games as highly as other competitions‚ but Semenya believed they are still important‚ especially for inspiring youngsters.

“I didn’t start yesterday ... I had a dream to compete in championships because my idols‚ I saw them at those championships.”