CASTER Semenya finally added her name to the list of South African athletes that have qualified for the London Olympic Games when she recently bettered the required A-standard in the 800 metres at the Yellow Pages III Track and Field meeting in Pretoria.
The 2009 world champion and 2011 silver medalist needed to run 1:59.90 or better to secure her place in the South African team. She managed to improve on that time slightly, clocking 1:59.60.
Athletes are required to better the standard at least twice before the Olympics and also compete in the South African National Championships.
The Limpopo-born athlete first bettered the mark at the World Championships in Daegu last year, and was then crowned national champion in Port Elizabeth earlier this month, although she failed to achieve the necessary standard on that occasion.
He latest achievement, with the help of pacemaker Tjipekapora Herunga, she was a convincing winner, with Monique Stander in second place in 2:02.57 and Mapaseka Makhanya third in 2:04.77.
“It is a huge relief to attain the London Olympic A qualifying standard early in the year,” Semenya told African Athletics.
“I owe a debt of gratitude to our pace pacesetter, who worked according to how we planned the race.”
Looking ahead, Semenya said: “It will be great to make it to the podium and even win a gold medal at the Olympics. Going to the Africa Senior Championships in Benin is a good chance to sharpen up for the Olympics.”
Beijing Olympics silver medal winner in the long jump, Khotso Mokoena, took advantage of the perfect conditions to record a distance of 8.29m with his first leap. He now needs to leap 8.20 metres again to secure his place in London.
His South African and African record stands at 8.50 metres.
Mbulaeni Mulaudzi, who like Semenya won the 800 metres at the World Championships in Berlin in 2009, once again narrowly missed out on a qualifying time. After running 1:45.78 in Port Elizabeth, he clocked 1:46.12 in Pretoria as he took a convincing victory ahead of Thapelo Madiba and Daniel Nghipandula.
Wenda Theron, after producing a time of 55.79sec in the 400m hurdles at the South African Nationals in Port Elizabeth, stopped the clocks in 56.05. The Olympic qualifying time is 55.50sec.-www.southafrica.info