Caster Semenya targets Diamond League trophy
Semenya has come under the spotlight off the track as she turned to the Court of Arbitration to challenge the IAAF rules on testosterone levels
Caster Semenya and US prodigy Noah Lyles head the field at the first of the two Diamond League finals, in Zurich on Thursday.
Semenya will look to wrap up the trophy in the women’s 800m while Lyles goes head-to-head with Turkey’s world and European 200m champion Ramil Guliyev.
"My main aim tomorrow is win the trophy," said Semenya, the double Olympic champion and three-time world champion who is now unbeaten over the 800m since her elimination in the semifinals of the 2015 worlds in Beijing.
But Semenya, 27, has also come under the spotlight this season off the track as she turned to the Court of Arbitration for Sport to challenge the IAAF rules on testosterone levels in female athletes to be introduced in November.
Under the new regulations, "hyper-androgynous", athletes such as Semenya would have to chemically lower their testosterone levels to be able to compete, which the 800m runner says is discriminatory and in violation of the IAAF’s constitution and the Olympic Charter.
"I respect my opponents and I expect the same thing from them," Semenya said in Zurich. "My ultimate goal is always to entertain people."
Lyles remains the favourite going into the men’s 200m final, having already clocked up four wins on the Diamond League circuit this season. But Guliyev, along with Aaron Brown and Jereem Richards, will be breathing hard down the neck of the defending champion.
"I acknowledge that Ramil Guliyev is running fast," said the Lyles, 21, who ran a personal best of 19.65sec in Monaco in July. "I knew I had to get to the Diamond League final. Now I’m here, winning is more important than running fast."
The 200m is just one of 16 Diamond League disciplines to be decided at the sell-out Letzigrund Stadion, with the remaining 16 disciplines to be decided in Brussels on Friday.
The women’s blue riband event sees Britain’s newly crowned European champion Dina Asher-Smith take on a strong field over 100m.
Asher-Smith will line up alongside Dutch sprinter Dafne Schippers, Nigerian Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor, and proven Ivorians Marie-Josée Ta Lou and Murielle Ahouré.
"There’s no place to hide in the Diamond League," Asher-Smith admitted. "Sometimes it’s not just about winning and losing, it’s about the journey," she said, before adding: "I hope to end my season on a high."
In the field, Greece’s double defending title holder Katerina Stefanidi will bid to continue the form that saw her clinch European gold, up against American Sandi Morris. Morris beat Stefanidi in Birmingham, and the American’s season’s best is also superior to the Greek vaulter’s.
Also competing will be Norwegian Jakob Ingebrigtsen. Just 17 years old, he took gold in the men’s 1,500m and 5,000m at the Berlin Euros.