Caster on track
Caster Semenya's low-key return to competition continued with a win in the 800 metres at the Savo Games in Finland yesterday.
The South African cruised to victory in her second race since being cleared to compete as a woman, finishing in a time of 2 minutes, 2.41 seconds.
Semenya always looked in control against a weak field. Britain's Marilyn Okoro might have offered Semenya some competition but pulled out before the event.
Semenya, pictured appeared to be relaxed before the race on a blustery day in the small town of Lapinlahti, north of the capital Helsinki.
In the absence of any real rivalry, Semenya said she found it tough to stay with the two pacemakers.
"The race was pretty hard, the pace was fast for me," Semenya said. "It helped me to run a faster time, so I'm quite happy with the performance."
Sofia Oberg of Sweden came a distant second in 2:04.27 and Russia's Anna Verhovskaya was third in 2.04.41.
Semenya said Seme expects her to be running times of 1:56 or 1:57 when she returns to competition.
During her 11-month layoff while Semenya underwent gender testing, Seme and Harkonen tried to shield the 19-year-old runner from the limelight.
The meets in Finland have helped to reintroduce her gently into the spotlight, as well as into competition.
"I'm pretty happy with the performance," Semenya said. "Starting with 2:04 and 2:02 is good."
Harkonen said he thought the trip to Finland had worked "100 percent" as he had hoped, although he believed the wind made Semenya's run difficult yesterday.
Semenya is aiming to be in contention gold at the Commonwealth Games from October 3 in India.