Pretoria: Middle-distance runner Caster Semenya gave South Africans plenty to smile about as she bagged silver in the women’s 800 metre final on Saturday night at the 2012 London Olympics.
The Limpopo-born world champion, who had been near the back for the majority of the race, stayed composed in the face of the apparent trouble. Even though Semenya says the plan was for her to take gold in Saturday’s race, she admits she slipped up with the late kick.
“Unfortunately it was too late. I’m happy with the silver but I know the coach (Maria Mutola) is not really happy,” Semenya said. “I tried hard to get back but the body wasn’t really on fire today. But I had to fight.”
Semenya, however, regained form in the last stretch of the race and produced a fantastic finish to take silver in a time of 1:57.23.
Russia’s Mariya Savinova took gold, timing her finish perfectly to overtake reigning Olympian Champion, Pamela Jelimo, on the closing straight, posting a season’s best time of 1:56.19.
Jelimo had looked to take the pace with a lap left in the race, but paid the price of running for home too early as she faded in the last 50 metres. Ekaterina Poistogova of Russia dipped ahead of Jelimo on the line to take bronze by six hundredths of a second, clocking a time of 1:57.53.
Semenya bagged South Africa’s sixth medal at the Olympic Games — making it one of the most successful outings since readmission to international sport.