Classy Caster eyes big things in 2018 and beyond

2018-02-28 11:17
Caster Semenya (right) and wife Violet at the 2018 Laureus World Sport Awards (Getty)

Monaco - She may not have won at the Laureus World Sports Awards on Tuesday night, but South Africa's Caster Semenya carried herself like the champion she is throughout her time in Monaco. 

Given the sensitive nature of Semenya's unique situation surrounding gender testing and testosterone levels in women's athletics, the 27-year-old is often protected when it comes to giving interviews. 

Yet, hours before the Awards ceremony began in Monaco on Tuesday, Semenya met with first South African and then international media at the Le Meridien hotel a few hundred metres away from where the ceremony took place. 

Accompanied by wife Violet, Semenya was visibly relaxed as she fired off answers with class to whatever questions came her way. 

The Polokwane-born Olympic champion simply has no time these days for negativity in her life

Instead, she is focussed on achieving a rare 800m/1500m double at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on Australia's Gold Coast in April. 

It will be Semenya's first ever appearance at the Commonwealth Games, and she is looking to make up for lost time.

In 2010 she missed out in Delhi because her situation was still being investigated by the IAAF after she was made to undergo a gender verification test, while in 2014 she missed out in Glasgow through injury. 

It is the one medal missing from Semenya's impressive list of titles.

"As an athlete you want to win all major championships. The Commonwealth Games is obviously missing in my cabinet and it is very important," she said.

"For us, it’s one step away from Olympics. For me, it is everything and do-or-die."

While winning gold in both events is the priority for Semenya, the 800m will always be her signature event and she was asked once more on Tuesday if she had a potential world record in her sights.

The current world record, set by Jarmila Kratochvilova in 1983, has been standing for nearly 35 years. 

Semenya's personal best is 1:55.16 - the 16th fastest time in women's 800m history - while Kratochliva's world record is 1:53.28.

Every time Semenya runs a big race, the conversation of a dip at the world record emerges. It is certainty something she thinks about, but now that she is looking at two distances, it is not her priority.

"World record pace needs someone who is more focused on training than races," she explained.

"Nowadays it’s quite complicated because you have to accumulate points on the circuit. You’ve got to be really clever when it comes to balancing training.

"This is one of those years when we have a long season with Commonwealth, African Champs and intercontinentals. To balance that seems impossible, but if we find the balance with training we can run records."

With age still on her side, Semenya will be 29 at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. The record, though, might only be given all of her attention beyond that.

"It’s not in line now … the main targets is to run PBs and win gold medals," she explained.

"World records, I would say, is the last step of my career. At the moment I’m looking to win as much gold as I can and maintain my winning streaks. The more you win, the better you run."

*Lloyd Burnard is in Monaco as a guest of Laureus ...


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