Semenya ups the pace

HELSINKI - World champion Caster Semenya says she wants to train harder before the next step on her comeback trail after an 11-month absence.

Semenya crowned her comeback week in Helsinki on Sunday with an easy victory in the 800m, clocking 2min:02,42sec in her favoured event at the Lapinlahti meet.

That was almost two seconds faster than the time she set in her first outing since her lengthy break three days earlier.

The 19-year-old champion said: "I am very pleased with my performance.

"I got what I was looking for, but next time I want to run the first 600m faster, in 1:28 or 1:29.

"This wasn't easier than in Lappeenranta (on Thursday), as I had to push hard into the wind in the second lap."

A smiling Semenya completed a lap of honour after her win, knowing the hard work still lies ahead with Sunday's time a long way off her world title-winning run of 1:55,45 in Berlin last year.

She added: "I don't know where my next race will take place. Now I'll fly back home and start to train harder."

On Sunday Semenya was too good for second-placed Sofia Oberg of Sweden, who timed 2min:04,27sec, and Russia's Anna Verkhovskaya, who came third in 2:04,41. She had returned to action at Lappeenranta on Thursday, a deliberate low-profile choice aimed at keeping the international media off the scent. She won that race in 2:04,22.

On Sunday, she faced a more challenging task with three runners in the field having already gone faster than Thursday's time this season.

Semenya was given the green light to run again last week, after a review of gender-verification tests by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), and is gearing up for the Commonwealth Games in India in October.