The whole nation stayed up to watch their golden girl in the middle of the night, and Caster Semenya made it worth our while when she sauntered through to the 800m final with a convincing victory in the semi-finals at the Rio Olympics.
It was a textbook performance from the 2009 world champion as Semenya proved that she is the ultimate favourite for the gold medal in Saturday night’s final (Sunday 2.15am SA time).
Semenya took up position just behind the early leaders on the first lap, going out steadily in Lane 5 until the group came together. But most importantly, she stayed out of trouble by running on the outside so that she avoided any jostling for position on the inside.
|Vintage Caster Semenya makes her mark|
And despite Arzamasova retaining the lead up to the 600m mark, that was the cue for the 25-year-old South African to make her move, and didn’t she just.
Semenya glided past the leader, as well as Great Britain’s Lynsey Sharp and American Kate Grace as she put her foot down with less than 100m to go.
It was vintage Semenya, and she crossed the line in the fastest time of the semi-finals – 1 minute 58.15 seconds. Sharp clinched second and the other automatic qualifying place in an impressive 1:58.65, but there was no doubt about the fact that Semenya had made her mark.
The 2012 London Olympic silver medallist looked calm and composed throughout, and even though she had a lot of ground to make up with 200m to go, it didn’t fluster her at all.
Semenya is in supreme form, but she will know that her job is not yet done. The likes of Sharp, Burundian Francine Niyonsaba and Kenya’s Margaret Wambui are tough competitors, and who knows, finals are sometimes more tactical than the heats.
The only way Semenya can avoid getting into a scrap is to run out in front, but that’s a story for another night. On this occasion, Semenya ruled supreme.