Caster's comeback continues | SASCOC - SASCOC

Caster’s comeback continues

By Mark Etheridge

The comeback of Caster Semenya to international track and field competition comes full circle, well almost, on Sunday.

She returns to the same Olympic Stadium in Berlin where she won the world 800m title in August last year. But she lines up a far cry from the carefree young girl of 2009.

It’s been a barren 12 months for Caster during which she has only competed twice, at low-key meetings in Finland, after her career was put on hold until July 6 this year as she was investigated over doubts as to her gender.

Cleared by IAAF to compete again with still very little understanding of what went on behind the scenes it was a very different Caster who posted two wins in Finland (2min 04.22sec and 2:02.41) to the all-conquering Caster of a year ago when she clocked 1:55.45 on her barn-storming run to gold.

She’s had more time to get down to serious training now after her Finnish wins and Sunday’s race will be a truer test of just where she stands in the two-lap pecking order.

She told the ISTAF meeting website: ÔÇ£I have now run at two meets in Finland and won them both. But I cannot be completely satisfied with my times. Still, after eleven really hard months in which I’ve been through a lot; I’m looking forward to being on the track once again. Now I have to see to it that I really run good races, so as to pick up the thread of my earlier achievements ÔÇô maybe this time at the ISTAF. I’m already looking forward to the beautiful stadium and the Berlin public.ÔÇØ

The website says she wants to run at two smaller meets in August in order to regain the toughness of competition. Her manager, Jukka H├ñrk├Ânen says, ÔÇ£We have not given any acceptances except for Berlin and two weeks later in Milan. But the idea is that she should run one race each week. Starting in Berlin was Caster’s expressed wish. She wants to run times of under two minutes at Olympic Stadium again. The Commonwealth Games in India in October will then be the highpoint of her season.

According to the website Italian Elisa Cusma Piccione and Czech Barcelona finalist Lenka Masna will be Semenya’s main rivals.

The IAAF rankings lists Piccione’s best of the year as a 1:59.13 in Monaco last month. Masna clocked a season’s best of 1:59.71 in Barcelona, also last month.

Those times put them at 18th and 25th respectively on the 2010 world list, behind Alysia Johnson’s 1:57.34, run in the same race where Piccione’s season-best came.

Given that Semenya has had a good month’s training after her two Finnish meetings her fitness levels should mean that she should be capable of running around the 2min mark by now, meaning it should be the clearest indicator of just how fit she is right now.