Semenya to take it easy in 4km 'jog'

WHILE the debate continues to rage in the controversy surrounding her gender, South African middle-distance star Caster Semenya is putting it all behind her and returns to action this weekend.

WHILE the debate continues to rage in the controversy surrounding her gender, South African middle-distance star Caster Semenya is putting it all behind her and returns to action this weekend.

Semenya will compete in South Africa on Saturday for the first time since winning gold in the women's 800m at the World Athletics Championships in Berlin last month - just days after it was revealed the IAAF had conducted gender verification tests on her.

While she won't be gunning for victory this weekend, Semenya will turn out in the women's 4km race at the South African Cross-Country Championships in Pretoria.

The short race has been dropped from the schedule at the World Cross-Country Championships and Semenya's coach, Michael Seme, said she was under no pressure to perform. The important thing is for her to forget the controversy and get back into training for next year's track season.

"We're just trying to recover from everything, so she's going to jog nicely on Saturday and then we'll see where we go from there," Seme said.

"She's been selected by her province, so she will run, but it will just be training for her. If the other ladies are jogging, then maybe she can finish in the top 10, but even if she finishes second, nothing will happen because there is no team she can be selected for, so she's just going to jog."

Seme said it was a blessing in disguise that he had been left in the dark about the gender verification tests. "I could just focus on what my athlete was doing."

Media reports have claimed that Semenya had already been tested by Athletics South Africa (ASA) in July without her knowledge (she reportedly thought she was undergoing a doping test). This has been denied by ASA president Leonard Chuene, but the IAAF has confirmed it conducted tests on the athlete before the World Championships.

But Seme, who was in South Africa while Semenya was in Berlin, said the lack of communication from the governing bodies had done both of them a world of good. He said he was still being kept in the dark by ASA and the IAAF.

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