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In Rio it will be 800m gold ÔÇô Semenya

By Gary Lemke in London

A relaxed Caster Semenya faced the media on Monday and promised to turn silver into gold at the next Olympics in four years’ time after missing out in the 800m final.

She admitted that she had left herself too much to do in coming from the back of the field to finish second behind the Russian Maria Savinova, who clocked 1min 56.19sec, with the South African hitting the line in 1:57.23. ÔÇ£I thought that I would win, because training wise, I was expecting better [than silver]. But I was too far back in the first 200m and it’s something I will be working on with my coach [Maria Mutola].

ÔÇ£I was worried at the beginning but then I ran like crazy in the last 100 metres. I was going hard and overall I’m happy with the performance. Maria was happy and sad. Happy that I got a medal but sad that I didn’t get gold after all the work and training and the shape I was in.

ÔÇ£But next time it will be gold, I’ve got four more years to come and I’ve got a great team supporting me,ÔÇØ a smiling Semenya said.

She also reflected on the years of pain following the controversy surrounding her victory in the 2009 World Championships and subsequent suspension by the IAAF over her gender. ÔÇ£For me it wasn’t pain, I wouldn’t call it that. For me it was an obstacle to get over. To me it’s nothing now, I’m focused on the future. I’m strong … untouchable,ÔÇØ she said, to loud applause.

Semenya doesn’t have any immediate plans apart from ÔÇ£going home to trainÔÇØ ÔÇô she may return to Europe for a couple of Diamond League meetings depending on how she progress at home [Pretoria] ÔÇô and she also gave a pointer as to what was expected in Rio at the next Olympics, and beyond.

ÔÇ£I’m concentrating more on my speed. I wish I could one day run like [Kenyan] David Rudisha and break the world record, but as I said, I’ve got a good team, training partner, physio and support to do well,ÔÇØ she added.

Semenya had previously spoken of doubling up and attempting the 800m and 1500m in a┬á single Olympics, but on Monday she backtracked on that. ÔÇ£I think I might have a look at the 400m, not 1500m, after Rio. All will depend on how much I concentrate on speed work in the next few years.ÔÇØ

The president of SASCOC, Gideon Sam, thanked Semenya, the media and the chef de mission at these Olympics, Patience Shikwambana, for all their hard work and said of the athlete, ÔÇ£I appreciate it when athletes put medals on the tableÔÇØ.

The remaining members of the team will fly out from London later on Monday and arrive to a reception at OR Tambo on Tuesday morning.


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