World champ v SA champ | SASCOC - SASCOC

World champ v SA champ

National 800-metre track champion Mapaseka Makhanya will be in the immediate spotlight when she lines up for the first track event of her 2011 season in Potchefstroom on Saturday, writes Mark Etheridge.

That’s because world 800m champion Caster Semenya is also an entry in the event at the opening Yellow Pages Series meeting of the year.

But Makhanya is unfazed about coming up against the 2009 global champion, who was later plunged into a lengthy gender controversy before being cleared to run again in July last year by the sport’s governing body, the IAAF.

It’s unclear what shape Semenya is in now as she is battling with persistent lower back pain. And Makhanya is just focusing on her own goals. “It’s not about Caster. I’ve got a lot of goals this year,” said the 25-year-old Gauteng athlete.

“My ultimate goal is to go to the World Championships in Daegu, South Korea this year in either the 800 or 1500m. Before that though it’s off to African and World cross-country championships.

“Not forgetting that I have a title [800m] to defend at SA champs. It’s going to be a long season for me but I’m ready. To qualify for world track and field championships I’m probably going to need a personal best in both events.”

As such Makhanya has been hard at work, along with coach Lungile Bikwani, even over the festive season to achieve her goals. She has already shown good early-season form with fourth place at the national cross-country trials.

“My training has been going well, nothing has changed in that regard. I’m going with what works and it worked for me last year so my theory is why change a winning recipe.”

After Saturday’s race, Makhanya will also run the two-lapper at the Pretoria leg of the series.