After securing herself a place in the IAAF world championships 1 500m women’s final, South Africa’s golden girl Caster Semenya is now setting her sights on the national record. She is in good standing to achieve this historic feat.
Semenya, who is an 800m specialist, settled for third place to grab a spot in the main event against a powerful field by clocking 4:03:80 seconds. The first five runners gained automatic qualification to the final and Semenya was not to be denied. The 800m gold medallist is out to break Zola Budd’s national record of 4:01:81 sec set in 1984.
Semenya, who is doing three events – the 1 500m, 800m and the 4x400m relay – is determined to break the 33-year-old, long-standing record. She did a sterling job to make the final that will take place at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park tomorrow night at 10.45pm.
She confidently said that achieving the record is not beyond her. Semenya’s personal best is 4:01:99.
She said: “National record? I’m going for it. I can do it.”
Semenya, who ran before a sold-out crowd of more than 55 000 people at the 2012 Olympic venue, was happy with the weather conditions.
“We prepared for this at home and I knew what to expect. It’s all about enjoying what we do.
“The race was great and it was all about getting to the final and being safe, that’s all. I’m happy with the outcome, now it’s all about going to take a deserved rest to be ready for Monday.”
It rained in the morning, but was cool in the evening, and Semenya believes that was the typical South African weather.
Local girl Laura Muir produced the loudest cheer of the 1 500m semifinals, registering 4:03:64 to grab second place. The British runner is also in contention to push for a medal with the help of the home crowd.
Semenya said the conditions were suitable and that it was a great race and she is hoping for more of the same tomorrow.
She is hoping to produce a national record in the final against a stronger field than the one she ran against in the semis.
Semenya added: “Will see what happens in the final, but that is doable. I was not chasing pacemakers, I was just running my own race. But I will go back to prepare well. I believe that I’m capable to push for a medal”.
Semenya added that she was in great condition to produce her best performance in what will be a thrilling final. She said: “This is a championship – there is no room for errors. I will be ready and I’m fully fit. Once you get to the final, there are no favourites, it’s all about the will to win.”
The highlight of the opening day of the IAAF World Championships in London on Friday night was Britain’s Mo Farah winning his third 10 000m title in his last appearance to get a deserved standing ovation and the loudest cheer in the stadium.
Farah clocked 26:49:51 in an entertaining race to beat Uganda’s Joshua Kiprui (26:49:94) and Kenyan Paul Tanui (26:50:60).
The world watched one of the greatest athletes of all time for the last time – who retired unbeaten.
One of Mzansi’s favourite sprinters, Akani Simbine, nearly gave South African fans a heart attack when he ran a 10.15 seconds to finish fourth in the men’s 100m, which nearly cost him a semifinal spot. In the final late last night, Simbine ran with Usain Bolt who ran his final individual race, in which he came third.