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Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Coach says Caster Semenya fit, ready

Associated Press

JOHANNESBURG -- Caster Semenya is fit again and the 800-meter world champion set her sights on running under two minutes at this weekend's South African Championships.

Coach Michael Seme said Wednesday that the 20-year-old Semenya, who was bothered by a back injury, wants to kickstart her season at the two-day nationals in Durban by improving upon her best time this year of 2 minutes, 1.77 seconds.

Then she'll compete in Europe before she defends her title at the world championships in August in Daegu, South Korea.

"We want to run under two minutes," Seme said, "and then she can go to Europe. We will decide on the Golden League events immediately once she runs under two minutes."

Seme said Semenya had recovered from the back injury that spoiled the final part of her 2010 season and caused her to miss the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi. She returned to competition in July after sitting out 11 months during a gender-test controversy.

"She is 100 percent fit now," he said.

Semenya will run the 800 and 1,500 this weekend.

She said earlier this year that she may run the 800 and 1,500 at the 2012 London Olympics. But Seme said the first target was getting under two minutes in the two-lap event.

Semenya has gradually regained her fitness. She clocked 2:04.12 at a provincial meet in South Africa in mid-February -- her first 800 in four months following her back problem.

She trimmed nearly three seconds off that to win comfortably on March 25 with her season-best time at Germiston, just outside Johannesburg.

The last time the world champ went under two minutes was in Milan last September, two months after she was cleared to compete again by the IAAF following the gender controversy.

Semenya dominated the women's 800 meters in 1:55.45 at the 2009 worlds in Berlin. Her dramatic improvement in times and muscular build led the IAAF to order gender tests.

The case dragged on for 11 months before the IAAF cleared Semenya to run again in July. The IAAF has refused to confirm or deny Australian media reports that tests indicated Semenya had both male and female sex organs.

On Tuesday, the International Olympic Committee agreed to adopt rules for dealing with cases of female athletes who have excessive levels of male hormones.

The ruling IOC executive board agreed to put rules in place in time for the 2012 Olympics.