World champion Semenya wins comeback race

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.

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