Double Olympic women’s 800m champion will return to competitive racing for the first time since June 30, 2021 when she failed to qualify for the Tokyo Games.
Caster Semenya returns to competitive distance running on Wednesday (23 March), nearly 10 months after failing to achieve the qualifying mark for the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.
The two-time 800m Olympic champion, who scaled up to the longer distances due to the World Athletics’ testosterone rules, will line-up in the women’s 3000m at the second meeting of the Athletics South Africa Grand Prix, at Greenpoint Athletics Stadium in Cape Town.
The South African will be up against local stars, led by former national 5000m champion and two-time world cross country finalist Kesa Molotsane, plus her training partner Glenrose Xaba, a seasoned long-distance runner.
Semenya hasn’t raced competitively since 30 June 2021, when she finished in fourth place in a 5000m meet in Belgium in 15:50.12, missing out on her targeted 15:10.00 which meant she didn’t qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Games in 2021.
The South African 5000m national champion, who raced to her personal best of 15:32.15 in May 2021 has since spent most of her time off the track coaching athletes at the Masai Athletics Club which operates with her wife Violet, in Pretoria and Soweto.
In May 2019, a World Athletics eligibility ruling came into effect which prevents female athletes with Differences in Sexual Development (DSD) from competing in women’s events from 400m to one mile (1600m), unless they reduce their testosterone levels.
The 31-year-old Semenya vowed following that ruling that she would not take any testosterone suppressing medication, terming the rules discriminatory and unfair.
The runner challenged the World Athletics rules and lost the cases at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in 2019 and at the Swiss Federal Supreme court in 2020. She then moved a third lawsuit in the European Court of Human Rights in February 2021.
The triple 800m world champion shifted her focus on the 5000m, having originally decided to go for the 200m in March 2020.
Semenya won the women’s 800m titles at the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympics.