Caster Semenya chasing history
Caster Semenya is chasing history at GC2018 tonight, a rare 800 and 1500m double and a clean sweep of all major titles including Olympics, world championships and Commonwealth Games.
There is also the small matter of the 800m world record which has stood for 35 years.
The South African describes herself as ‘strong, fearless and unbelievable’ – and there is no question she has already left an indelible mark on the sport of athletics.
The two-time Olympic and three-time world champion is competing at her first Commonwealth Games. With the 1500m title already secured, tonight she races for the 800m and her place in history.
The motivation to further cement her legacy is clear.
“I’m very excited because it will be my first senior Comm Games so for me it means a lot,” Semenya told Fairfax.
“I know if I get a medal I'll have all major titles, and for my country it will be a blessing.
“My country have given me love, courage, respect, recognition and appreciated me for [who] I am, that’s for free, we call it humanity (Ubuntu), I couldn't have asked for more.”
Semenya claimed two Olympic and three world titles in her pet event the 800m, but she is adding the 1500m to her program in an attempt to clinch a historic double.
At the 2017 World Championships in London she finished third in the longer distance after winning the 800m title.
Semenya has dominated the 800, but the step up in distance is a much harder race for her to conquer.
“For its very important to master the skills especially in middle distance,” she said.
“We want to be better and take this to another level in sporting history.
“Preparation are very hard to be honest because you need to be able to do lot of distance, speed endurance and pure speed, we had to increase the programme so we can be strong and maintain throughout the season.
“Yes [the 1500m] is more demanding because we run a moderate pace, then out of nowhere pace just dramatically change, so you must always be prepared to move anytime.
“[It’s] very difficult because you need to be able to judge pace well and know when is the right time to move. If you make a mistake you [are] out.”
The 27-year-old still has time to add to her incredible sporting history. Her idol growing up, Maria Mutola, raced until she was 35, competing in a staggering six Olympic Games.
There is a definite sense that Semenya wants to do something special at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.
“To be honest we train very hard but smart, you need to train enough and be able to maintain through out the week,” she said.
“As for sacrifices it goes to nice time, you never out with friends due training and sometimes you stay far away from family for long time. It’s all about training, eat and sleep.”
But her approach to racing, much like anything else is a very simple philosophy.
“I tell myself that I'm a human and I feel,” she said.
“So whatever outcome of a race I accept it and the main thing is to finish my race no matter what.
“As people if we can learn to love one another and respect each other and also appreciate others for who they are we can be a great nation.
“For me I don't think it’s important to focus on who comes out, I think as a human I want to be respected as other will want the same, what I'm saying is that no one has to explain to anyone that they are gay or lesbian or whatever they are, when you walk out there you are just a human like any other.”
You can still buy tickets to watch Semenya race, but they are selling quickly. Snap up yours now.