ASABA, Nigeria, August 6 – Caster Semenya helped South Africa to end a strong week by successfully defended her 800m title on Sunday at the African Senior Athletics Championships at Asaba, Nigeria, on Sunday.
It was a dominating gun-to-tape front-running performance by the world champion which helped her country end the competition with three more titles to up their total medal tally to 30.
This was an impressive 11 more than Kenya and hosts Nigeria who each collected 19 in all.
As expected, Semenya successfully defended her 800m title with a dominating gun-to-tape front-running performance.
Starting in lane 1, the world and Olympic champion made up the stagger on the field about 150 metres into the race, and extended her lead over the next 450 metres.
The challengers, led by Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi, made up some ground over the final half lap, but by then the race had already been decided.
Semenya clocked 1:56.06 to clip 0.20 from the championships record set by Maria Mutola in 1993.
“Today was just to see how we could run after a hard 400 metres,” she said, competing two days after her 49.96 victory and national record over one lap.
“Which wasn’t a bad thing to do – to test my limits after running 49. And 1:56.06, that’s a beautiful time. I couldn’t have asked for more.”
Semenya confirmed that she’ll contest both distances at the Continental Cup and was pleased to learn that the 400 would be run first. “Perfect,” she said.
Niyonsaba was second in 1:57.97 with Ethiopian Habitam Alemu taking the bronze in 1:58.86.Celliphine Chespol was a distant second nearly 10 seconds back, clocking 9:09.61, with Fancy Cherono taking bronze.
– African News Agency (ANA)