AP – Caster Semenya has won Olympic and world titles on the track over 800 metres but can’t run that distance competitively now so she’s taking on cross-country at a world championships course more synonymous with an iconic Australian auto race.
Emma Coburn has won a world title and an Olympic bronze medal in the steeplechase and, while she’s still pursuing that event, she’s taking on a new challenge with inspiration from her mother, Annie, who died last month in the United States (US).
Semenya and Coburn will be participating in the mixed relay event at the World Cross-Country Championships today in Bathurst, a town three hours’ drive west of Sydney which is the annual home of Australia’s premier 1,000-kilometre touring car race, and where the winner is called the King of the Mountain.
The mixed team race involves women and men each running a two-kilometre loop in a relay, passing a wristband at the exchange zone. Semenya competed in the four-kilometre event at the South African cross-country championships last September in preparation. Coburn is competing for the US team on invitation.
The mixed relay will involve 15 teams and kick off the programme in the afternoon, when the temperature is forecast to reach 35 Celsius, two hours before the women’s 10-kilometre race. The men’s 10K race, featuring all three medallists from the last championship at Aarhus, Denmark in 2019, will conclude the event.
Joshua Cheptegei will be aiming to defend his title against fellow Ugandan Jacob Kiplimo, a silver medallist in Aarhus, and two-time champion Geoffrey Kamworor of Kenya. Cheptegei has the world records in the 5,000- and 10,000-metres, is the world champion in the 10,000 and cross-country and the Olympic champion at 5,000.