Semenya books semis spot
Daegu - South Africa's defending champion Caster Semenya declared herself "all okay" after safely negotiating the opening round of heats in the women's 800 metres on Thursday.
The 20-year-old withdrew from last month's World Student Games because of a back injury and her camp issued a statement before Daegu denying South African media reports that she was overweight and had fallen out with her coach.
On Thursday, she avoided trouble on the opening lap before hitting the front coming into the final straight and allowing Russian Mariya Savinova to catch her on the line, both being awarded a time of two minutes 01.01 seconds.
"It's all okay," Semenya told reporters. "I'm just focusing on the next round."
European champion Savinova has run the fastest time this year of 1:56.95 and is one of the favourites to wrest Semenya's crown from her in Sunday's final.
Semenya was banned from running for much of the first year of her reign as world champion while an IAAF investigation into her gender was conducted.
Given the green light to compete again in July last year, she has struggled since to get anywhere the time of 1:55.45 seconds she ran to win the world title in Berlin.
Times were understandably slow on Thursday morning with temperatures reached 37 degrees Celsius in the stadium and the leading contenders aware they would have to run again on Friday in the semi-finals.
"I just went to control the race, go at my pace," said Jamaica's Kenia Sinclair, who won heat two in 2.01.66. "I did not burn too much energy. Tomorrow will be as important as the final."
The exception was 2007 world champion Janeth Jepkosgei, who set the pace with her victory in heat three in an impressive 1.59.36.
"I was not really expecting to run such a time in the heats," the Kenyan Olympic silver medallist said.
"It think it is an open game. Nobody has been dominating. We have to see about tomorrow(Friday) how the race will be. This is a very important race for me. If I qualify to the final, I would like to win a medal again."