Despite not exactly setting the world alight in recent times, Caster Semenya’s athletics passion still burns.
The 2012 Olympic silver medallist in the 800m is in action at the South African track and field championships in Coetzenberg, Stellenbosch.
She ran both the 800 and 1500m heats on Friday and qualified for the finals in both events.
New coach, Jean Verster, himself a national athlete in track and field and cross-country, is quietly confident of his charge.
‘I’ve been looking after her since November last year and she’s coming along nicely,’ the Potchefstroom based ace told Road to Rio 2016.
‘We’ve started off very slowly and we wanted to get her previous injuries all sorted out before anything. That’s all working out now so things are looking up.
‘Our two major goals are still World Championships in China later this year and then obviously the Rio Olympics next year.’
Semenya, 24, clocked 2min 09.08sec to reach Saturday’s final and she also comfortably made the final of the 1500m with a 4:37.85 clocking.
What sort of shape is she in? ‘She’s getting there,’ says Verster. ‘Probably in 2:034 shape, no actually she could probably run a 2:02 on Saturday.’
Whether that’s good enough to win another national title, will have to be seen.
‘She’s been very good for the training group and brings a lot of passion and positive outlook which is always good.’
On Monday she’s in action at the same venue where she’ll line up for the 3000m, yes seven and a half laps, which is way out of her normal comfort zone.
‘She actually wanted to run that distance,’ chuckled Verster. ‘She just wants to run a personal best but I don’t even know what that time is. I don’t know if she’s gone under 10min for 3000m!’
Someone who was very much in their comfort zone on Friday was hammer-throw legend Chis Harmse.
He hurled the metal sphere 71.98m which was 9.37 further than the silver medallist Johan Kruger of Boland.
It also proved that he’s in another stratosphere when it comes to SA hammer-throwing. This title is his 20th consecutive national title.
Sprinter Evette de Klerk still has more national titles – 23 – but then it must be remembered that she contested both the 100 and 200m titles back in the 80’s and 90’s.
And Harry Hart is the big daddy of them all with 31 gold medals, but in his case those were gathered over five different events. in the 1930’s.
Source : South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee