Caster Semenya lined up for her first race of the season yesterday, 10 days before the Court for Arbitration of Sport (CAS) is expected to rule on her challenge to the IAAF’s female eligibility rules.
The three-time world champion and double Olympic champion was in good spirits, making an appearance at the Gauteng North Championships at the Tuks track in Pretoria.
Racing in the colours of Masai Athletics Club, which she founded, Semenya first lined up in the 1500m yesterday morning.
The Masai Athletics Club logo is a silhouette of Semenya doing her iconic ‘cobra’ pose.
Semenya, who is still in early season training, looked comfortable in the three-and-three-quarter lap event.
She took the lead out from the gun opening up a healthy gap which she maintained throughout the race crossing the finish in a time of 4:14.69.
Junior athlete Carmie Prinsloo valiantly chased Semenya’s shadow, finishing second in a time of 4:19.45.
Semenya made a rare appearance in the 5000m yesterday afternoon, racing to victory in a time of 16:11.59.
Glenrose Xaba crossed the line in second place with a time of 16:53.61 with Prinsloo bagging bronze in 17:11.13.
The CAS panel have started its deliberations in this case which it said could “be considered as one of the most pivotal CAS cases” and expected to make a decision on or before March 26.
The week-long hearing which was held in Lausanne in February heard from experts and witnesses on both sides.
The IAAF president Sebastian Coe spoke at the start of the hearing while Semenya addressed the panel on the fifth and final day.
The IAAF is seeking to force so-called “hyperandrogenic” athletes or those with “differences of sexual development” (DSD) to seek treatment to lower their testosterone levels below a prescribed amount of five nanomoles for at least six months.
This will only affect athletes who compete in the distances between 400 metres and the mile (1609m) which are the events Semenya excels in on the global stage.
Semenya has said in the past that she would eventually move up in the distance once she has truly conquered the 800m and 1500m events.
While yesterday’s 5000m would have been a tempo run as part of her training for a long season, it could be construed as a message to the IAAF.
The 5000m falls outside the events that would fall under the IAAF’s regulations should they be implemented.
“Once you start classifying women, it is a problem, if you want to classify those in the 400m, 800m, and 1500m, I say okay, then I will move to sprints and see what you can do about it,” Semenya said at a Discovery event in 2018.
“I will then confuse you again and move back to the middle distances.”