ZUKO QUSHEKA

Despite controversy surrounding her gender two years ago, former Tuks athlete and Olympic silver medalist Caster Semenya is heading into the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championships 800 m race with the hopes of a nation on her shoulders once more.

The young athlete, who broke into the public spotlight when she raced to second place in the 2011 Olympic Games, has suffered from a knee injury and coaching issues during the past two years. Now she has come back to impress fans as she took to the track in her bid to meet the qualifying times for the South African team. Semenya won the national 800 m title in the process earlier this year.

In a recent BBC interview, Semenya explained how the break from running had been good for her and helped her get back to her senses. The knee injury which had troubled her popped up again in late June and effectively meant she would miss the World Student Games held in South Korea in order to recuperate. New coach Jean Verster emphasized that it was merely a “light knee injury” and that Semenya would focus on making it to the IAAF World Championships to be held in Beijing, China.

Although still not at her best after struggling to break two-minutes in the 800 m, Semenya made it into the South African team with a last-ditch attempt at a meeting held in Linz, Austria, qualifying with a time of just over two minutes. After a lot of hard work and determination, she has seemingly proved her doubters wrong by running her way back into fitness and health and further adding on to the impressive field of SA female runners, like Anneri Ebersohn and Rikenette Steenkamp. If Semenya can maintain this fitness and health, it is hoped that she will be in a position to contend for a high placing at the championships. Semenya will face some tough competition as she looks to shake off the niggles that have slowed down her racing so far and hopes to challenge the likes of Kenya’s Eunice Jepkoech Sum, who set the fastest women’s 800lm time this year, clocking in at 1:56.99 s.

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