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Caster skips China

The World Student Games get underway in Shenzhen, China on Friday but medal contender and world 800-metre champion Caster Semenya won’t be part of Team SA’s medal quest.

Semenya was hoping to use the Games as a tune-up event ahead of the IAAF World Athletics Championships in Korea later this month but informed team management before the team left that she didn’t want to run the risk of aggravating a back injury that has intermittently interfered with her form this year, writes Mark Etheridge.

The 20-year-old Tukkies athlete has looked a pale shadow of the athlete who ran 1min 55.45sec to win the world title in Berlin two years ago and her form has swung like a pendulum this season. Her best was a 1:58.61 in Norway but since then she’s done little to show that there’s more gas in the tank.

University Sport South Africa’s athletics chairman Glen Bentley said he understood Semenya’s predicament. “We decided that the world championships was a more serious competition, and we support her sitting out because it is in the national interest,” said Bentley.

Time will now be of the essence with two weeks to go before the showpiece of the track and field calendar this year. Not only will Semenya have to make sure her back is able to stand up to the pounding but she has to make sure her mind is in the right place to take on the world’s best.

A team of 34 athletes will do duty for South African in China, among them Diamond Race contender Sunette Viljoen who won the javelin title at the Games in Belgrade two years ago.


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