Caster Semenya began her 2017 season assault with an impressive 3000m win
Olympic 800m gold medallist Caster Semenya began her 2017 season assault with an impressive 3000m metre win at the third leg of the Athletics South Africa Speed Series.
Her time of 9:36.29 in the second time she decided to take on the seven-lap race was her personal best, comfortably beating specialists like Kesa Molotsane (9:37.46), Lebohang Phalula (9:43.40) and Mapaseka Makhanya (9:48.88).
Such was the comfort of her race, she hardly broke sweat and found time to joke with officials next to the track.
It was the kind of relaxed approach to her profession that will make her opponents quake in their boots.
There is the significant matter of the IAAF World Championships that will take place in London later this year.
It was only her first race of the year but a chilling message has been sent out. Semenya said didn't expect to run as well as she did with the fact that it was her first race of the season.
“This race was part of my training in terms of gaining mileage because we're a month behind the schedule. I was just surprised with the time because I didn't expect to go under 9:40 because I've always been a 9:49 runner. I'm really surprised because I hardly go around the track four times but we still need to play around with the distances. Times are not an issue at the moment,” Semenya said.
Olympic women's javelin silver medallist Sunette Viljoen also didn't have to push herself very hard.
Her winning throw of 62.83m was enough to book her a ticket to the World Championships. Viljoen said she was looking forward to settling her score with London. In the 2012 Olympics, she finished fourth.
“I'm really looking forward to the London trip because that's where my biggest disappointment happened. That's been my motivation in my training, to make sure I turn that disappointment around and make it into something very positive and beautiful. Winning a medal in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is a special thing,” Viljoen said.
“I'm in the shape and condition of my life and if I put in the effort that I've been putting in my training, I think I'll do well. I haven't reached my potential and the 70m mark is something I want to get to this year. The time is right and I believe I can do it.”
Akani Simbine also made an impression in the 200m, running a World Championships qualifying time of 20.32 ahead of Botswana's Isaac Makwala (20.62) and Clarence Munyai (20.67).
Simbine, who has already run a sub-20, looked at ease and not at any stage tried to push himself very hard.
Veteran hurdler LJ van Zyl also found himself on the wrong side of finishing second when he was beaten by Le Roux Hamman in the 400m hurdles.
Botswana's Kabelo Sebanda also ran a World Championships qualification time in the 400m when he won his heat in a time of 45.08.
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