Caster win still doesn't beat clock
WORLD 800m silver medallist Caster Semenya received a timely, if unconvincing, boost ahead of her final meet before the Olympics at the weekend.
Semenya won the event in which she will compete in London at a low-key meet, the Leichtathletik Sparkassen Meeting, in Haldensleben, Germany, on Sunday.
The 2009 world champion ran the best time of two heats, holding off former South African Diane Cummins, now of Canada, in a tight finish.
In the faster of the two races, Semenya recorded a relatively pedestrian time (by her standards) of 2min 1.20sec, while Cummins finished a hundredth of a second slower.
Colombia's Rosibel Garcia also featured in the sprint finish, coming in seven-hundredths of a second off Semenya's time.
While Semenya will take heart from winning a close finish, the time - and the calibre of athlete she did it against - won't have done wonders for her confidence going into the final Diamond League meet before the Olympics.
The 21-year-old will line up at Friday's Herculis Zepter meeting in Monaco looking to improve her season's best of 1:59.18.
The effort is the fourth-fastest in a field missing medal contenders Pamela Jelimo, world champion Mariya Savinova, and Ethiopia's Fantu Magiso.
But it does feature Alysia Montano of the US, whose 1:57.37 is the third-fastest time in the world behind Jelimo this year, and fellow top-tenners Irina Maracheva and Elena Kofanova, both of whom have faster times than Semenya.
Semenya's form has been difficult to assess this season.
Having won her world title in 2009 with a personal best of 1:55.45, she has consistently struggled to break two minutes in the two-lap race this season.
But she did run a personal best of 1:25.56 in the 600m in Finland last month, which should be an indication of decent form but, in this situation, only serves to further confuse the issue.
Either way, Friday is shaping up to be a revealing day as far as Semenya's prospects at the Olympics.
Another South African poised to show his hand at the meet is long-jumper Khotso Mokoena, the country's lone medallist at the Beijing Olympics. Mokoena finished third behind Australia's Mitchell Watt and Britain's Chris Tomlinson at the London Diamond League meet at the weekend, showing good technique in the process. He is up against Watt again, and Olympic champion Irving Saladino.