Caster Semenya defends 800 title at South African nationals, but fails to secure Olympics slot
South Africa’s Caster Semenya. PHOTO/File
Caster Semenya retained her 800-meter title at the South African championships on Saturday but was still well off the qualifying time for the London Olympics.
The world silver medallist led the two-lap final almost from start to finish but could only manage 2 minutes, 2.68 seconds with no one to push her below the 1:59.90 she needs to be eligible for South Africa’s team in London.
Double-amputee sprinter Oscar Pistorius finished seventh in the 400 final in 47.28, backing off in the last 50 meters after he struggled to recover from a slow start despite running in lane two.
Lebogang Moeng won in 45.75, but Pistorius is still the only men’s 400 runner in South Africa to post an Olympic qualifying time this year after his season-opening 45.20 last month.
He needs one more run below 45.30 seconds on his carbon fiber blades in an overseas event to be eligible to go to London.
Semenya eased home in the south coast city of Port Elizabeth for her second straight national title, but hasn’t gone under two minutes this year. She has yet to shake off a sluggish start to her Olympic preparations under new coach Maria Mutola.
Mutola, the former Olympic 800 champion, had targeted the nationals for Semenya’s first sub 2-minute run of 2012.