Athletics 21.8.2016 03:54 am

Semenya romps to Olympic gold

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 18: Caster Semenya of South Africa at the start of the women's 800m semi final during the evening session on Day 13 Athletics of the 2016 Rio Olympics at Olympic Stadium on August 18, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Roger Sedres/Gallo Images)

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 18: Caster Semenya of South Africa at the start of the women's 800m semi final during the evening session on Day 13 Athletics of the 2016 Rio Olympics at Olympic Stadium on August 18, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Roger Sedres/Gallo Images)

Race favourite Caster Semenya lived up to the hype, charging to victory in the women’s 800m final at the Rio Olympics in the early hours of Sunday morning.

The fastest woman in the world this year over the two-lap distance, Semenya had coasted to convincing wins in the preliminary rounds, and she had no trouble in the medal contest as she secured the title in 1:55.28 to break her own national record by 0.05.

Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi took the silver medal, well off the pace, in 1:56.24.

“The race was a bit quick and the first 400m I was pushing myself, which was great. It was just about being patient and doing what I do best,” Semenya said after the race.

“The coach (Jean Verster) just told me to be patient and wait for the right moment.”

She earned the nation’s 10th medal at the Rio Games, equalling the record double-figure hauls achieved at the Antwerp showpiece in 1920 and the Helsinki spectacle in 1952.

Semenya also made history by becoming the first black South African woman to earn an Olympic title.

Meanwhile, Elroy Gelant finished 11th in the men’s 5 000m race in 13:17.47.
After sticking with the lead group, the national record holder faded in the closing stages as the leaders wound up the pace.

Mo Farah of Great Britain defended his title in 13:04.35, and though the South African crossed the line further back in 14th position, three men ahead of him were disqualified.

While he was pleased to gain valuable international experience at the highest level, Gelant admitted he was disappointed not to finish higher up the field.

“I think I should have been a little more relaxed during the race,” Gelant said.

“I didn’t execute well over the last 1 000m, because I knew they were going to pick it up and I slacked a bit, so I was really disappointed with the last kilometre.

“I need to execute better, but it was a hard day at the office.”

August 21, 2.34am:

The fastest woman in the world this year, Semenya had coasted to convincing wins in the preliminary rounds, and she had no trouble in the medal contest, securing the title in 1:55.28 to break her own national record by 0.05.

She earned the nation’s 10th medal at the Rio Games, equalling the record double-figure hauls achieved at the Antwerp showpiece in 1920 and the Helsinki spectacle in 1952.

Semenya also made history by becoming the first black South African woman to earn an Olympic title.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 18: Caster Semenya of South Africa in the women's 800m semi final during the evening session on Day 13 Athletics of the 2016 Rio Olympics at Olympic Stadium on August 18, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Roger Sedres/Gallo Images)

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – AUGUST 18: Caster Semenya of South Africa in the women’s 800m semi final during the evening session on Day 13 Athletics of the 2016 Rio Olympics at Olympic Stadium on August 18, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Roger Sedres/Gallo Images)

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