Caster Semenya took a step closer to the Tokyo Olympics on Friday, though the qualifying standard remained just out of reach at the Newton Classic Qualifier meeting in Durban.
Still suspended from competing over distances ranging from 400m to 1,500m, with her latest court appeal not yet resolved, Semenya had juggled the idea of qualifying in the 200m or 5,000m events for this year’s Tokyo Games, and her racing schedule this year suggested she had settled for a crack at the longer distance.
And while she remained more than 22 seconds outside the Olympic qualifying standard of 15:10.00, she won the women’s 5,000m contest at the coastal meeting in 15:32.15.
After sharing the pace with training partner Glenrose Xaba for much of the race, Semenya eventually opened a gap and coasted to victory, chopping 20 seconds off her personal best of 15:52.28 which she had set to win the national title in Pretoria last month.
Though there remains the possibility of qualifying by ranking, the two-time Olympic 800m champion needs to run under 15:10.00 before the end of June to guarantee her place in Tokyo in the 12-and-a-half lap event.