Athletics

Caster Semenya targets 200m qualification for Tokyo 2020 Olympics

"My dream has always been, and will continue to be, to compete at the highest level of sport... I have decided to change events, and compete in the 200m." - South African double Olympic champion

By Evelyn Watta ·

Double Olympic 800m champion Caster Semenya has switched events to the 200m and has confirmed she'll be aiming to qualify at the shorter distance for the Tokyo Games.

The South African made the announcement on Instagram shortly after racing to her personal best of 23.49 seconds at the Athletics Gauteng North meeting in her hometown Pretoria.

“As you are all aware, I am unable to compete in the 800m and defend my title at the Tokyo Olympic Games later this year.”

"My dream has always been, and will continue to be, to compete at the highest level of sport, and so in order to pursue my goals and dreams, I have decided to change events, and compete in the 200m.

"This decision has not been an easy one, but as always, I look forward to the challenge, and will work hard, doing all I can to qualify for Tokyo and compete to the best of my ability for South Africa."

Semenya,29, as well as the other two Rio medallists in the women's 800m, Francine Niyonsaba and Margaret Nyairera Wambui, are affected by World Athletics' Differences of Sexual Development regulations.

The runners have been told that, under the new rules, they cannot compete in events between 400m and 1600m unless they take testosterone-reducing drugs.

On Friday Semenya won the Gauteng province 200m title in 23.49 seconds her fastest ever.

“It’s possible, man. I call myself super natural so I can do anything I want.It’s all about putting in the hard work,"she told the Times Live.

“I’m a power athlete. I can do anything from 100 to, I’d say, marathon. I do have power and speed which has helped me to run a 800m, but obviously from young I’ve done 200m.

 “I wish I had been doing 200m from age 12 – I don’t where I would have been now.”

Friday's timing knocked off 0.32 seconds off her previous mark of 23.81 seconds at the Tuks track at the University of Pretoria on March 7.

Her previous best from February 2019 was 24.26.

The qualifying time for the women's 200m at the Tokyo Olympic Games is 22.80.

Semenya opened her season with a win in the 300m at the "Classic Shootout" meet in Johannesburg in a national record of 36.78 seconds.

The run in Johannesburg on February 14th was her first track meeting since June 2019.