Wayde van Niekerk might not be competing in this year’s Commonwealth Games due to injury, but South Africa are managing pretty well on the track without him.
After Akani Simbine and Henricho Bruintjies stormed to a one-two finish ahead of favorite Yohan Blake in the men’s 100-meter final on Monday, Tuesday saw double Olympic champion Caster Semenya cruise to gold in the women’s 1500m.
The 27-year-old obliterated the field, setting a personal best and Commonwealth Games record of 4.00.71 in the process, in another landmark race for her already glittering career.
Having won 800m gold at both the London and Rio Olympics, the 1500m is a relatively new race for her and victory will be a huge encouragement ahead of her 800m final on Friday, with her sights set on a world record that has stood for 35 years
Semenya, who carried the flag for South Africa at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony, is hyperandrogenous — meaning she has elevated testosterone levels — and the condition has dogged her athletics career ever since she won the world 800m title as an 18-year-old in 2009.
“It’s not about looking at people [and] how they look, how they speak, how they run,” Semenya recently told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“You know, it’s not about being muscular. It’s about sports,” she said. “When you walk out of your apartment, you think about performing. You don’t think about how your opponents look. You just want to do better.”
Semenya celebrates as she crosses the finish line almost three seconds ahead of her opponents in the Carrara Stadium, Gold Coast in the 1500m final.
Kenya’s Beatrice Chepkoech finished almost three seconds behind Semenya to take silver, while Welsh runner Melissa Courtney took bronze.
Semenya’s gold takes South Africa ahead of Canada in the overall medal table, into fifth place behind Australia, England, India and New Zealand.