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Caster’s dramatic win
- Updated: August 16, 2009
In scenes reminiscent of the Zola Budd-Mary Decker “tripping incident” at┬á the 1984 Olympics, South Africa’s Caster Semenya sensationally qualified for the semi-finals of the women’s 800 metres at the IAAF World Championships in Berlin on Sunday.
Semenya, who had been well-placed in second position with 150 metres to go, made contact with the front-running Janeth Jepkosgei. The clipping of the South African’s right foot with the leader’s heels saw the 2007 world champion and 2008 Olympic silver medallist crash to the track.
She was unable to recover and limped home in last place. The race was won by Semenya who did remarkably well to stay upright and she hit the line in 2min 02.51sec, and with Jepkosgei now out of the event, she looks a real medal candidate.
Also in action on Sunday morning was men’s 3000m steeplechaser Ruben Ramolefi, who was impressive in qualifying for the semi-finals. Running in a sweatband and sunglasses, Ramolefi did most of the work at the front of the field and struck for home early, before crossing the line in third spot (although he could have pushed on for the win, but it was pointless in that the first four automatically qualified for the semi-finals).
Nevertheless, Ramolefi was credited with 8:18.24, having led them through the 1000m mark in a quick 2:44.54.
The teenage Semenya, who came into the championships as the quickest two-lapper in the world this year (a national record 1:56.72), started in lane eight but quickly made her way to near the front.
The world champion Kenyan took the field through the bell in 1:00.58 and Semenya was third, but easily pushed her way through into second spot, along the inside of the track.
However, as she was about to switch out for her final effort, she crossed legs with the world champion and was left to leap-frog her stricken rival and power down the home straight.
The fastest time of the women’s heats was 2:02.20, which suggests that, despite the drama, Semenya has every opportunity of going deep into the competition.