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Caster Semenya misses Olympic qualifying mark in Durban

28 May 2021 - 16:59 By david isaacson
Caster Semenya. File photo.
Caster Semenya. File photo.
Image: Roger Sedres/Gallo Images

Caster Semenya failed in her Olympic qualifying bid on Friday‚ starting the 5‚000m too slowly and unable to master a dominant Durban wind that saw her fall short by just more than half a minute.

Her 15 min 32.15 sec in the Newton Classic at King’s Park was still a personal best by 20 seconds.

Semenya has a month to make the 15 min 10 sec automatic criterion before the June 29 qualifying window ends.

But there’s an irony that all four of SA’s track-and-field medallists from the 2016 Rio Olympics are yet to qualify for the Tokyo showpiece.

Wayde van Niekerk‚ the 400m champion‚ and women’s javelin silver medallist Sunette Viljoen are still looking to book their spots while long-jumper Luvo Manyonga is already out of the running after copping an automatic suspension for missing three doping tests inside a year.

Semenya would have qualified for Tokyo if she’d agreed to take medication to lower her naturally occurring high levels of testosterone‚ as required by World Athletics’ regulations for athletes with differences of sexual development wanting to race distances from 400m to 1‚500m.

The double Olympic 800m champion‚ who achieved the women’s 800m qualifying standard in 2019‚ Semenya is fighting the governing body’s rule in court and is competing outside the band in the meantime.

She has previously said she plans to race in Europe‚ though she had been considering non-Olympic distances.

She and her training partner‚ Glenrose Xaba‚ started the four-women race too slowly‚ taking turns to run to the front to share the workload‚ especially into the headwind on the home straight.

By the time Semenya made her move it was too late.

Maybe if she’d had more pacemakers she might have had a better chance‚ but as it is‚ women’s distance running in SA is short on top competitors.

As it is‚ no SA woman has competed over 5‚000m at the Olympics‚ and only three have taken part in the 10‚000m — Barcelona 1992 runner-up Elana Meyer‚ Colleen de Reuck and most recently Dominique Scott.

Scott‚ however‚ has qualified for SA in the 5‚000m‚ having been named in the first Olympic team announcement by the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) on Thursday.


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