Semenya set to race in Finland

HELSINKI - South African world 800m champion Caster Semenya will return to competition next Thursday in the Finnish town of Lappeenranta, after an enforced break due to controversial gender tests, her agent said.

HELSINKI - South African world 800m champion Caster Semenya will return to competition next Thursday in the Finnish town of Lappeenranta, after an enforced break due to controversial gender tests, her agent said.

"If nothing extraordinary happens she will compete in Lappeenranta," Jukka Harkonen said yesterday.

"She is suffering from mild flu, which is the only thing that could impact on it, but we have booked flights and agreed on everything."

Semenya, who was cleared to compete as a woman by the International Association of Athletics Federations on Tuesday, has not run competitively since undergoing gender tests at the Berlin world championships in August.

"There are a few small competitions held in July and there is no point starting from a big competition. It's better to get the competition feeling from smaller ones," Harkonen said, adding that the fact that he was Finnish also had some bearing on the decision.

He said there had been talks about other competitions that Semenya might attend after Lappeenranta, but that no decisions had been made.

Semenya sprang to prominence last year with her rapid improvement over 800m. Her winning time in Berlin of 1min:55.45sec was the fastest of 2009.

On Wednesday, the 19-year-old South African ran 600m in fitness tests to determine if she was ready to compete after her long absence.

Her coach Michael Seme has said Semenya will not compete in the World Junior Championships in Canada later this month but might run in the African Championships, which start on July 28. - Reuters

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