Semenya targets 1500 at London Olympics

DURBAN Fri Apr 8, 2011 9:51am BST

Caster Semenya of South Africa celebrates after winning the women's 800m at the ISTAF Berlin Grand Prix athletics competion, August 22, 2010. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

Caster Semenya of South Africa celebrates after winning the women's 800m at the ISTAF Berlin Grand Prix athletics competion, August 22, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Fabrizio Bensch

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DURBAN (Reuters) - Caster Semenya, South Africa's 800 metres world champion, has also targeted the 1500 at this year's world championships and the 2012 London Olympics.

Semenya shot to fame when she won the 800m world title in Berlin in August 2009 before an enforced break of almost a year after undergoing gender verification tests.

The 20-year-old said Friday that competing in the both the 1500 and 800, would aid her in her quest for success in the world championships, in Daegu, South Korea this August, and in London.

"As part of my preparation it is important to go long. I'm not only looking to run it (1500) at the world champs but also at the Olympics next year," Semenya told Reuters by telephone.

Semenya returned to competitive athletics in July last year but her comeback was derailed by a back injury which forced her to withdraw from the Commonwealth Games.

However, she feels that she is almost back to her best.

"I am feeling better and my times are getting better now. The world champs are my main target for the year," she insisted.

Semenya's coach, Michael Seme said that he was pleased with her progress since her recovery from injury.

"The quality she is showing now is fine. She has worked hard and she is in no pain which augers well. There is nothing impeding her (from running a fast time)," he said.

Semenya will be in action Saturday and Sunday when she lines up in the 800 and 1500 at the South African championships in Durban.

Semenya has a best time of two minutes 1.77 seconds in the 800 this season, well short of her world championships winning time of 1:55.45.

Seme said he would be satisfied if his athlete could dip under two minutes, although Semenya insisted the time was not important to her, as long as she won.

"What is important is going for gold," she said.

Seme said that Semenya would compete in Europe.

"We will go to Europe after the SA champs but we haven't decided where she will run," he said.

"Her time in the SA champs will determine where she runs because a good time means that she will have better lanes to run in at European meets," he explained.

(Editing by Alastair Himmer)

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