Commonwealth Games 1,500m champion Caster Semenya had to settle for a distant sixth at Thursday’s IAAF Diamond League meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, writes MARK ETHERIDGE.
Semenya, who set a Commonwealth record of 4min 00.71sec in Gold Coast, Australia three months ago, at least had the satisfaction of beating that time as she stopped the clocks at 4:00.44 on Thursday.
The winner was Shelby Houlihan, the American scorching to a meeting record and personal best time of 3:57.54 with Britain’s Laura Muir and Dutch runner Sifan Hassan rounding off the podium with times of 3:58.18 and 3:59.39 respectively.
But SA record-holder Semenya (3:59.32 in Doha, Qatar earlier this year) was but a pale shadow of the athlete who only last week broke her South African 800m record in Paris.
Never was she in contention, lying sixth at the bell and there was absolutely no sign of the massive finishing kick that customarily carries her to victory down the final straight.
On this occasion, she looked distinctly one-paced, even labouring to maintain contact with the five athletes, who this time, looked to be pulling away from her.
Earlier, Benin’s Noelie Yarigo had taken the field through 400m in 1:01.57 and Kenya’s Emily Tuei led at 800m (2:06.12) before Ethiopia’s Gudaf Tsegay had made a strong bid for the win before being hauled in by the leaders.
Semenya is busy fighting an IAAF ruling on testosterone levels in female middle distance athletes, which will impact directly on her.
To this effect, she recently appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
The rules come into effect on 1 November.
Photo: Semenya and Britain’s Laura Muir reflect after Thursday night’s 1500m in Lausanne, by Alain Grosclaude/AFP/Getty Images