LAPPEENRANTA, Finland, (Reuters) – South Africa’s world 800 metres champion Caster Semenya won her comeback race yesterday after an enforced break of almost a year following controversial gender tests.
Semenya won in two minutes 4.22 seconds in the southeastern Finnish town of Lappeenranta in her first competitive outing since taking gold in 1:55.45 at the Berlin world championships last August.
“It is not easy to come and run 2:04 while you stayed for 11 months at home, so yeah, I am pretty happy with the performance,” Semenya said in an interview with the Finnish broadcaster YLE.
The 19-year-old is scheduled to compete in Lapinlahti, central Finland, on Sunday before returning to South Africa to build up her fitness.
“The more we race the better we will get,” Semenya said when asked what she needed to do to reach a good fitness level.
Her coach has targeted the Commonwealth Games in October for Semenya and Athletics South Africa spokesman Richard Stander was confident she would be competing in New Delhi.
“She definitely looks good for the Commonwealth Games,” Stander told Reuters.
“She has three months before the event and she probably only needs about six weeks to get into top form so she has plenty of time to prepare,” he added.
Semenya was cleared to compete as a woman by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) on July 6 and because of her lack of race fitness ASA opted not to include her in the teams for this month’s world junior championships and the African championships.
Stander believed his organisation had made the right choice in not rushing Semenya back into top-flight competition.
“I think it was the right decision by the ASA board not to include her in the teams.
“She looked relaxed on the track and now she has time to build up properly for the season and I expect bigger things from her this year,” he explained.