Semenya 'will make her return in Europe'

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The Independent Online

Caster Semenya will make her comeback at a European meeting but is not fit enough to compete at the world junior championships in Canada, the 800-metre world champion's coach said yesterday.

Michael Seme said the 19-year-old South African is looking to run in "one or two" meetings in Europe before making her return to major competition at the African championships in Kenya, which begin 28 July. "We can't go straight to a big meeting," Seme said, "so we are preparing for one or two races before that. It will be a European competition." Semenya's agent will decide at which event she will make her long-awaited return, Seme said.

Semenya was cleared to return on Tuesday by the International Association of Athletics Federations, ending an 11-month stalemate over her status following gender verification tests. Semenya, who can continue running as a woman, has not raced competitively since winning the 800m world title in Berlin last August.

"It is not easy," Seme said, "but just to be there is important as it is to get the body used to it again. Caster is happy that she will be back in action but we must make sure she is training properly."

Seme said that the world junior championships in the Canadian city of Moncton, beginning later this month, were too early for Semenya. "She is not fit enough for the juniors," Seme said. "She has not failed, but she was not prepared for the junior championships."

Semenya ran two 600m trials at her training base in Pretoria yesterday but her times were "not good enough for an 800m runner," according to her coach. Seme said Semenya ran times of 1 minute, 35 seconds and 1:38 in the trials. He said he expected her to be running around 1:30. South Africa's national federation said it had requested that Semenya undergo a fitness test to see if she was ready to compete.

Semenya's dramatic improvement in times and muscular build led the IAAF to order gender verification tests last year. The IAAF said on Tuesday that it accepted the conclusion of a panel of medical experts that Semenya could return with immediate effect. The IAAF said the medical details of her case would remain confidential, leaving it unclear if she has had any medical procedure or treatment during her time away.

* Usain Bolt has said he may switch to other disciplines such as the long jump after the 2012 Olympics. Bolt said yesterday that he fears his fans will get bored with him if he wins the 100m and 200m in 2012, and he is eager to try new events. "I'm not going to be one of those athletes who go on until they're 36," Bolt said. "If I win [in London] then I probably have to try something else."