STANFORD, California (AP) — Caster Semenya easily won the women’s 800 at the Prefontaine Classic yesterday, as an international court continues to debate her future in the event.
The reigning Olympic champion and embattled three-time world champion won in one minute, 55.70 seconds, nearly three seconds ahead of second-place Ajee Wilson, in the highly anticipated race at Cobb Track and Angell Field. It’s the fastest-time ever on American soil.
“We’re happy with the win but not how we ran the race,” Semenya said. “Obviously, when you’re running 800 metres it’s all about the splits that you run. We’ve not really calculated well but at the end of the day you have to execute, you have to rectify those mistakes when you’re running a race.”
It was the first time Semenya ran the 800 since a Swiss Supreme Court ruled her eligible while it considers her appeal against a new International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) rule capping testosterone levels in women’s events from the 400 to mile.
The 28-year-old refused to take medication to be in compliance. She was eventually cleared in time for the seventh stop on the Diamond League circuit.
“When I run I forget about everything. It’s just all about me,” Semenya said. “It’s all about me being free. It’s all about me doing what I love. I treat people with respect and I appreciate them for who they are. For me it’s all about inspiring the youth so they can be better.”
Semenya trailed early but took the lead on the back stretch of the second lap and cruised across the line more than 15 metres ahead of Wilson, who finished in 1:58.36.