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Caster wins comeback race
- Updated: July 15, 2010
By Mark Etheridge
Eleven months after her career was put on hold, world 800-metre champion Caster Semenya was back on track on Thursday night the way she left it — victorious!
Semenya won in Berlin on August 19 last year and after a year in the wilderness after a tug-of-war gender speculation she was cleared to run by the sports governing body, the IAAF on Tuesday last week.
Last night she won a low-key 800m event at the Lappeenranta Games in Finland, a meeting that will probably gain higher status than it’s ever deserved to date, due to Caster’s comeback.
She won the two-lapper in 2min 04.22sec. That’s 9.17 seconds off her winning time of 1:55.45 in Berlin last year.
But the most important thing for the 19-year-old is that she’s finally back on the world athletics circuit and already there’s another Finnish meeting scheduled for Sunday where she’ll line up again.
A good crowd turned out on a summer evening as a nervous-looking Semenya lined up in lane four.
Clad in black knee-length tights and a purple top, she sported a golden runner hanging on the end of a chain around her neck.
The first lap came and went in 1:02:05 and Caster, clearly in a class of her own in this field, notwithstanding her long lay-off, moved into the lead down the main straight.
Runner-up was local girl Mar Javenpaa in 2:04.71
Granted Semenya was nowhere near as “ripped” as when she ran off with the spoils in Berlin. In fact she looked positively chunky.
But that’s not the point. She’s back. The big test will be when she has to up the tempo and push her body back into competition against the world’s elite.
“It is not easy to come and run 2:04 while you stayed for 11 months at home, so yeah, I am pretty happy with the performance,” Semenya said in an interview with the Finnish broadcaster YLE.
Also in action was our young long-jump sensation Luvo Manyonga who recently broke Khotso Mokoena’s national junior by an impressive 10cm when he jumped 8.19 in Bottrop, Germany.
On this occasion he wasn’t on top of his game, making the top five with an 8.04m effort. But the fact that he’s jumping consistently over 8m will stand him in good stead for the rest of the season.
And Manyonga’s Stellenbosch training partner Cornel Fredericks had a good evening, winning the 400m hurdles in a career best 48.99.