Stellenbosch - With a new coach, a new hairstyle and a new, trimmer physique, Caster
Semenya reclaimed the South African 800-meter title on Saturday and said
she's injury-free and looking to qualify for her first world
championships in four years.
The former 800m world title-holder and
2012 Olympic silver medalist won in 2 minutes, 5.05 seconds in
Stellenbosch, near Cape Town, making her move on the last corner and
pulling away from the field through the final 50 meters.
winning time was just over four seconds off the qualifying mark for the
worlds in Beijing in August, but she has run sparingly over the last
three years because of injury problems.
She said the world championships in August were "the aim. The most important thing is to stay healthy."
24-year-old Semenya is being guided by new coach Jean Verster after
splitting with former Olympic champion Maria Mutola. She said she's been
working with Verster, a former South African distance runner, for five
A teenage sensation when she won the world title in 2009
at 18, Semenya's career was thrown off track for a year when she was
prevented from running because of a gender-test scandal.
She returned to win a silver medal at the 2011 worlds and mistimed her finish to take silver at the London Olympics.
then, Semenya has struggled to compete regularly after the recurrence
of an old knee injury and missed the 2013 worlds. She said Saturday she
had been "sitting for almost two years."
"Better times, that's what I need right now," Semenya said.
Saturday, Semenya - with her hair cut in a mohawk style - ran in the
middle of the pack for 600 meters, then shifted gear through the final
two bends and powered down the straight to win comfortably. She appeared
much slimmer than she was a few years ago.
Semenya will compete
at least once more in South Africa, she said, before heading overseas
for the buildup to the worlds. She hasn't confirmed for any
international races yet, but said she was looking at running at the
Prefontaine Classic Diamond League meet in Eugene, Oregon at the end of