Caster Semenya will be the only South African athlete in action in Lausanne, Switzerland on Thursday night when the world 800m champion faces a quality line-up in the women’s 1 500m race at the eighth leg of the IAAF Diamond League series.
With five athletes in the 18-strong field having dipped under four minutes this year, a fast is race on the cards, but Semenya will fancy her chances of reclaiming her lead in the Diamond League 1 500m standings.
Likely to deliver another world-class effort at the top-flight meeting, we take a look at the highlights of the middle-distance star’s memorable 2018 campaign thus far.
Displaying superb early-season form, Semenya signalled her intent by smashing the long-standing national record over the rarely run 1 000m distance when she charged to a commanding victory in 2:35.43 at the Liquid Telecom Athletix Grand Prix meeting in Pretoria in March. Her performance eclipsed the previous South African mark of 2:37.20 which had been set by Ilze Wicksell in Bloemfontein in February 1983.
Carrying her fine domestic form onto the international circuit, Semenya earned an impressive 800m and 1 500m double at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in April. First she clocked 4:00.71 to win the 1 500m final, breaking the 34-year-old SA record of 4:00.81 held by iconic distance runner Zola Budd, and three days later she completed the 800m final in 1:56.68, tearing clear of Kenyan chaser Margaret Wambui down the home straight.
Three weeks after wrapping up her Commonwealth double, Semenya rocketed herself round the track, making a spectacular breakthrough in the 1 500m event at the Diamond League season opener in Doha. Storming to victory in 3:59.92, she became the first South African woman to shatter the four-minute barrier in the metric mile, with the former two-lap specialist again proving her tremendous potential over the longer distance.
With a legal battle brewing off the track, after Semenya revealed she would take the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) to court over its new gender regulations, she made an explosive statement at the Diamond League meeting in Paris last week. Securing another commanding win in 1:54.25, she clipped nearly a full second off her own national 800m record to clock the fourth fastest time in history.