Semenya targets Commonwealth title after comeback win

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The Independent Online

South Africa's 800m world champion Caster Semenya won her comeback race last night after an enforced break of almost a year while she underwent gender tests.

Semenya won in two minutes 4.22 seconds in the Finnish town of Lappeenranta in her first competitive outing since taking gold in 1:55.45 at the Berlin world championships last August.

"It is not easy to come and run 2:04 while you stayed for 11 months at home, so yeah, I am pretty happy with the performance," Semenya said.

The 19-year-old is scheduled to compete in Lapinlahti, central Finland, on Sunday before returning to South Africa to build up her fitness. "The more we race the better we will get," Semenya said when asked what she needed to do to reach a good fitness level.

Semenya's coach, Michael Seme, said that he was happy to get her career underway again. "This first comeback helped us a lot because now we're feeling stronger and stronger," Seme said. "The two days training here helped us a lot."

Seme has targeted the Commonwealth Games in October for Semenya and Athletics South Africa (ASA) spokesman Richard Stander was confident she would be competing in New Delhi.

"She definitely looks good for the Commonwealth Games," Stander said. "She has three months before the event and she probably only needs about six weeks to get into top form so she has plenty of time to prepare."

Semenya was cleared to compete as a woman by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) on 6 July and because of her lack of race fitness ASA opted not to include her in the teams for this month's world junior championships and the African championships.

Stander believed his organisation had made the right choice in not rushing Semenya back into top-flight competition. "I think it was the right decision by the ASA board not to include her in the teams. Now she has time to build up properly for the season and I expect bigger things from her this year," he explained.

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