Finland: Caster Semenya wins 800m on race comeback

semenya_meadowsWorld 800m champion Caster Semenya won her first race since being cleared to return to competition after underdoing gender tests.

The 19-year-old South African won the 800m at the Lappeenranta Games in Finland in a modest time of two minutes, 4.22 seconds.

Semenya pulled away on the home straight to beat a weak field.

The time was a long way off the 1:55.45 she clocked when winning gold at last year’s World Championships in Berlin.

The African junior champion, though, was happy with her time after an 11-month absence from competition.

“To come and run a 2:04 is not easy, especially after what happened,” said Semenya, who fended off Finn Mari Jarvenpaa (2:04.71) for victory on Thursday.

“I was a little bit nervous because it has been a long time not competing. It’s a new beginning.”

Semenya, who will race again in Finland on Sunday at the Lapinlahti Games, is hoping to compete in October’s Commonwealth Games in Delhi where she could face Britain’s Jenny Meadows, who won bronze in Berlin.

The South African teenager came to prominence thanks to her performances at the Worlds in Germany but her rapid improvements over the distance prompted speculation over her gender.

However, following the completion of their testing procedure, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) cleared Semenya to compete again last Tuesday.

Despite the massive media glare that the controversy attracted, Semenya remained remarkably upbeat about the protracted saga.

“Maybe it was good for me to rest after I ran my fastest time last year,” she said. “I’m still young, the muscles are still developing, so yeah, I can run faster than that.”

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