Caster Semenya aiming for gold medal in 800 at Commonwealth Games next month

By Jeremy Inson, AP
Thursday, September 2, 2010

Semenya aiming for 800m gold at Commonwealth Games

MILAN — World champion Caster Semenya has set a goal of winning the 800-meter gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.

Despite poor results in her recent return to the track, the South African said Thursday that she is gearing up for the Commonwealth Games next month and the 2011 world championships in Daegu, South Korea. Her next race will be in Milan on Thursday.

“Of course, I’m going to Delhi to run for gold in the Commonwealth Games,” said Semenya, who was cleared to run after being sidelined by an 11-month gender dispute following her 800 world title last year in Berlin. “That’s my main event this year.”

The 19-year-old Semenya ran 2 minutes, 7.16 seconds at a meet in Italy on Tuesday — much slower than her season’s best of 1:59.65 — for her second consecutive loss. She finished third at the Diamond League meeting in Brussels on Friday.

“I’m just preparing for the Commonwealth Games and the world championships next year,” Semenya said of her form. “There’s the chance to defend my title and then there’s the Olympic Games (in 2012). These are all things I am aiming for.”

Semenya, however, has been criticized for her lackluster performance in Rovereto, Italy, in which she finished ninth.

“We took the view that if she tried to win all these meets, when it comes to the Commonwealth Games she wouldn’t be able to run well,” said her coach, Michael Seme. “So we had to stick to the plan and we are still following these goals for the Commonwealth Games.”

On Aug. 28, Semenya won the 800 in 1:59.90 before a crowd of nearly 50,000 at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin, the site of her triumph at the world championships last year. It was 4.5 seconds slower than her winning time at worlds.

On Thursday, Semenya also spoke about 800 rival Pamela Jelimo, the 2008 Olympic champion from Kenya who has struggled since failing to reach the final at the last worlds.

“She just needs to do the basic things,” Semenya said. “For Pamela to come back, she needs to do the small meetings, build up step by step and that should put her back.”

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