Caster Semenya secured her first Commonwealth Games title on Tuesday, earning Team South Africa's fifth Track and Field medal at the multi-sport spectacle at the Gold Coast, Australia.
In her wake she smashed the Games record to wipe more than four seconds off the old mark, to convincingly cross the line in 4:00.71* to break the national 1 500m Women record of 4:01.81, which had been set by Zola Budd in Port Elizabeth, South Africa in March 1984.
The world 800m champion, who earned bronze in the 1 500m event at last year IAAF World Championships in London, again delivered over the longer distance. With 200 metres to go, the three-time world 800m champion broke away and went for the record.
"At the moment we're doing well in training, which is why we've been able to do this," Semenya said.
"Now we can read splits, we can manage pace and run for a long time at one pace."
Earlier on Day 3 of the athletics competition, SA record holder Antonio Alkana finished fifth in the 110m Hurdles final in 13.49.
"I ran faster (13.32) and much easier in the heats, but the tension is so much higher in the final because everybody wants to be on their A-game. The best guy won today," Alkana said.
During the morning session, Wenda Nel showed good form to take second place in her 400m Hurdles heat in 54.67. She will compete in the final on Thursday.
In the 200m Men heats, Anaso Jobodwana (20.91) and Clarence Munyai (20.95) cruised to first-round victories, ensuring they both turn out in the semi-finals on Wednesday.
Constant Pretorius finished fourth in his 400m Hurdles heat in 49.71 and LJ van Zyl, a former Commonwealth Games gold medallist, ended fifth in his first-round race in 50.98, with neither athlete qualifying for the final.
“We congratulate Caster, coach and those in her support staff for breaking the two records,” said Aleck Skhosana, the President of Athletics South Africa.
“We are proud of her for conquering the 1500m. She picked herself up after she failed to win it in London in 2017 at the IAAF World Championships. She remained focussed, worked hard to correct mistakes and tactics, before taking the title of this event in style.
“ASA wishes all men and women still in competition well and trust that they will remember that the country is targeting a top placing at the Commonwealth after our last placing. We trust the best is yet to come.”
Wednesday 11 April. Australia time in brackets
- 11.45am (7.45pm): Sunette Viljoen, Javelin Women final
- 12.32 pm (8.32pm): Luvo Manyonga, Ruswahl Samaai, Long Jump Men final
- 12.50pm (8.50pm): Clarence Munyai, 200m Men semi-final 1
- 12.58pm (8.58): Anaso Jobodwana, 200m Men semi-final 2.
Issued By ASA
Photo Credit: Roger Sedres