Caster Semenya still smiling, despite ‘paying the price’ for a tactical error
Semenya’s bronze for the 1,500m takes SA’s medal tally to three, and she could help Wayde van Niekerk deliver SA’s best world championships showing
London — Caster Semenya says she paid the price for a mistake after taking bronze in the women’s 1,500m at the world championships in London on Monday night.
Semenya was forced to fight after allowing the frontrunners to get too far ahead in the race‚ won by Olympic 1,500m champion Faith Kipyegon ahead of Jenny Simpson of the US.
The South African was fifth coming down the home straight‚ but she made up ground on her rivals as she delivered the fastest final 200m of the field.
Still‚ Semenya had to dip on the line to push Laura Muir of Britain into fourth place by seven-hundredths of a second, to give SA its third medal of the showpiece so far.
"I knew what they were going to do‚ but I slipped back. I made a mistake. I had to pay for that‚ but I’m quite happy with the medal‚" a beaming Semenya said afterwards.
"Letting them stretch [ahead] for long‚ that was the biggest mistake. I tried to keep up the pace but I realised when it’s about the last 300m that I’m far back so‚ ja‚ I had to pay the price."
Semenya‚ the Olympic 800m titleholder‚ is known for her kick in that event‚ but she said this was a different proposition.
"I’m used to kicking‚ but this is a different race — it’s three laps‚ not two laps…. I’m an 800m runner so for me to change pace like that is quite difficult.
"I have to wait‚ listen to my body‚ listen to my brains and then obviously I’ll kick later."
Asked whether she was worried at any point that she had blown her medal chances‚ Semenya replied: "No‚ no‚ no. I always believe in myself. I knew I’m going to win a medal."
Muir said her gas tank hit empty on the home straight. "I gave it everything I had‚ but ran out of energy in the last 50m as they came past."
SA record in sight
SA’s team at the world championships needs just two more medals to secure its richest haul to date — and Wayde van Niekerk is in pole position to deliver them.
The sprint star is poised to win SA’s next two gongs — the country’s fourth and fifth of London 2017.
That would surpass SA’s best world championship return of four medals (two gold and two silver) at Paris 2003.
Van Niekerk is the favourite going into the 400m final on Tuesday night and he is a strong contender in the 200m‚ which will be decided on Thursday.
If Akani Simbine‚ struggling with a hip impingement‚ can’t add to the tally in the 200m‚ Caster Semenya should be able to in the 800m on Sunday night.
SA’s three medals so far have come from Semenya’s 1,500m bronze, and long-jumpers Luvo Manyonga (gold) and Ruswahl Samaai (bronze).
South Africans in action on Tuesday:
Women’s 200m heats: Justine Palframan (8.38pm SA time)
Women’s 400m hurdles semifinals: Wenda Nel (9.35pm)
Men’s 400m final: Wayde van Niekerk (10.50pm)