Johannesburg - Caster Semenya on Wednesday morning produced a season’s best time to advance to the women’s 800m semi-finals at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing.
Semenya finished her heat in third place clocking one minute, 59.59 seconds (1:59.59) for an automatic qualification into the next round.
“The race was a bit quick for me, I wasn’t expecting a very fast race in the heat, I was expecting something around 2:02-2:2:01 but the girls ran a brave race because they want to go through,” Semenya told IAAF.org in a video interview.
“I am happy that I dipped under two minutes, it is going to be tough throughout the championship, so I will try my best.”
It is the first time since 2013 that the Olympic silver medallist had dipped below two minutes in her specialist event.
Semenya is regaining her top form after an indifferent 2014 where she could only muster a season’s best of 2:02.66.
Focusing on her studies and battling with a niggling injury, Semenya left it late to qualify for this year’s World Championships with the 2:00.72 she ran at the end of last month.
“Running 1:59 in the first round is not easy especially after having an up-and-down season where I had to pull out of the World Students and trying to pull it together to be here,” Semenya said.
“It is a great achievement running under two minutes and it shows the chemistry with the coach (Jean Verster) is good.”
Already boasting with a 2009 gold and a 2011 silver medal, Semenya will be looking for some more silverware.
“What matters is running a good championship but this year I don’t have many races in my legs so it is going to be hard,” she said.
MOKOENA INTO TRIPLE-JUMP FINAL
Bouncing back from the disappointment of narrowly missing out on a men’s long jump final, Olympic silver medallist Khotso Mokoena made it into the top-12 for the triple jump final on Thursday.
His 16.78m attempt was good enough for a final berth in the hop-skip-and-jump and just short of his season’s best 16.85m from earlier this month, indicating he was reaching his best at the right time in this event.
Meanwhile, men’s 110m hurdler Antonio Alkana failed to make it past Wednesday morning’s heats at his maiden championships, finishing sixth in his heat with a time of 13.63 seconds.