Caster Semenya shows little emotion in winning what could be her last 800-meter race

South Africa’s Caster Semenya wins the women’s 800 meters at a Diamond League meet May 3 in Doha, Qatar.
(Karim Jaafar / AFP/Getty Images)

Caster Semenya raised a fist to the crowd when her name was called, then easily won what could be the last 800-meter race for the Olympic champion.

She responded to her defeat in a landmark court case against track and field’s governing body with a dominant victory Friday in a place where she hasn’t been beaten for the last four years — on the track.

Semenya was never challenged at the opening Diamond League meet of the season, winning in 1 minute 54.98 seconds. It was a meet record in Doha and the fourth-fastest time she has run.

It might be the last time the South African appears in her favorite race, in which she is a double Olympic and three-time world champion.


Friday’s race was the last women’s 800 before new regulations introduced by the IAAF — which were upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport on Wednesday — take effect. They will require Semenya and other female athletes with high levels of natural testosterone to lower them to be eligible to compete in events from 400 meters to the mile.

Having lost in her appeal against those rules, Semenya has not said if she will follow them or switch to longer distances not affected by the regulations. The world championships start in September, also in Doha, and if Semenya wants to return to defend her title she will have to medically reduce her testosterone by Wednesday, when the rules take effect.

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Semenya gave away little emotion at the end of the race. She was presented with a bunch of flowers and tossed them to the crowd. She gave a thumbs-up to fans and walked off the track.


She faced a strong field in the race that included two Olympic medalists in Francine Niyonsaba and Maragarat Wambui. Semenya still won by a huge margin — nearly three seconds — over Olympic silver medalist Niyonsaba in second. Ajee Wilson of the United States was third.

It was Semenya’s 30th straight win at 800 meters. She last lost a race over 800 meters in late 2015, the same year previous testosterone regulations were lifted and she was able to run without restrictions.

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