Track world champion athlete in 2009, Caster Semenya makes her Diamond League debut this season in Zurich on Thursday, and it will be interesting to see whether her long lay-off from international athletics will have any influence on her race tactics.
At last year’s Olympic Games in London, Semenya showed that she has the best ‘kick’ when it comes to running 800-metre international races. The way she accelerated over the last 300m to win the silver medal was most impressive.
This will be her first major race since last year’s Olympic Games, and the interesting question is whether or not her long inactivity has caused her to slow down.
She won a few low key events in Europe before the World Championships in Moscow, but because Semenya was never pushed to the limit, little conclusion can be made about her present form.
Her best time so far is a modest 2min 01.86sec, and she will be one of only three athletes in Zurich who have not yet run a time faster than two minutes this season.
Eunice Jepkoech Sum (Kenia), gold medal winner at the World Championship in Moscow, as well as the silver medalist, Mariya Savinova (Russia), will be in action.
According to Semenya’s coach, Maria Mutola, her main obstacle lies in her mind. “She just has to motivate herself and believe in her ability to run real fast times again.”
Mutola is a firm believer that you don’t wait for the other athletes to dictate matters in an 800m race. “It is important for me that Caster should dominate every time she races, because that is how you earn the respect of your rivals.”
(With editing by gsport)