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- Olympic champion’s Epic win, big-hearted women’s triumph
Semenya blazes her way into 800m final
- Updated: August 9, 2012
By Gary Lemke in London
Maria Mutola offered a ÔÇ£no commentÔÇØ but her wide smile showed just what she thought of her protege Caster Semenya’s performance in the women’s 800m semi-finals in the Olympic stadium on Thursday night.
The seven-time outdoor world champion and 2000 Olympic 800m gold medallist trains Semenya in Pretoria and said a few months back that, ÔÇ£Caster will win gold in LondonÔÇØ. After blowing her opposition away as the fastest qualifier into the final, Semenya herself didn’t say much, but there is a visible confidence in her body language and clearly she is banishing all the demons that pursued her in the wake of her 2009 world championship victory.
That all seems a long time ago and the ÔÇ£oldÔÇØ Semenya looks as as if she is back. At the ripe age of 21. She ran a mature race, coming from off the pace to start cranking things up down the back straight with 300m to go and then she swept past Kenya’s Janeth Kepkosgei Busienei and the American Alysia Johnson and surged to the line.
The clock stopped at 1min 57.673sec and she was never in trouble. The track is fast ÔÇô as witnessed by Kenya’s David Rudisha becoming the first man to go under 1:41 in breaking the 800m world record en route to gold ÔÇô but Semenya was way quicker than anyone else.
ÔÇ£It was a tough race,ÔÇØ she conceded afterwards, even if it didn’t really look like it was to the naked eye, such was the dominance she showed. ÔÇ£You’ve got to forget about everyone else and only think of yourself. Crossing the line first is what it is all about.ÔÇØ
One of her chief rivals in Saturday night’s semi-final will be the Kenyan Pamela Jelimo, who won the first semi-final in 1:59.42. ÔÇ£It was a tactical race and the final will be faster,ÔÇØ she said, before adding, ÔÇ£but there’s no point in being scared of anyone. The track and conditions are the same for everyone. I’m going to go back now and try to relax and not think about the final. I’ve prepared well and now I’m in the position to get a medal.ÔÇØ
On the basis of what we saw at the Olympic stadium, she might have to settle for silver, if the South African can reproduce the form she showed on Thursday night. And there’s no reason to suggest she can’t.
Anaso Jobodwana had the proudest moment of his young life as the 20-year-old competed in the men’s 200m final, alongside the greatest sprinter the world has ever seen, Usain Bolt, and a man tipped to succeed the Jamaican, Yohan Blake.
Bolt, well, bolted out of the blocks and never looked back, although he did throw a few sideways glances on his inside as Blake charged down the straight in pursuit but he was never going to get to the legend, whose time of 19.32 was just outside the Olympic record.
Jobodwana was, understandably, left completely behind and he crossed in 20.69, off the personal best of 20.27 he’d set in the semi-finals when he’d run second to Bolt.
The experience though will stand him in good stead. A late inclusion into Team SA he reached the Olympic final and rubbed shoulders with Bolt and Blake. Having only turned 20 less than two weeks ago that is something he will never forget.
And, in four years time in Rio, there’s no reason why he won’t again be in the final. And you can be sure that he’ll finish closer to Blake than he did on Thursday night.