By Mark Gleeson
CAPE TOWN (Reuters) – Caster Semenya will make a final attempt at qualifying for the Olympics when she runs 5,000m at a meeting in Belgium this week.
The 30-year-old South African is banned from participating in any 400m to one-mile race after the sport’s governing body, World Athletics, ruled in 2018 that to ensure fair competition, women with high levels of natural testosterone have to take drugs to reduce them in competition. in middle distance races.
The two-time Olympic 800m champion, who refuses to take medication to alter her testosterone levels, ended up with the 5,000m as her best chance at the Tokyo Games, but her efforts so far to finish in the qualifying mark of 15: 10.00 missed.
She has tried twice since winning the South African 5,000m title in Pretoria in April, but her best time was 3:32:15 at a meeting in Durban last month specially organized to offer her an opportunity.
Semenya then left to race in Europe where she felt she had a better chance of qualifying alongside stronger runners, but in Regensburg, Germany on June 19, she couldn’t do better than fourth. , in 15: 57.12.
Wednesday’s meeting in Liège, as part of the World Athletics continental circuit, will be his last chance. The International Olympic Committee on Tuesday defined as the last chance for athletics to qualify for Tokyo, but Athletics South Africa are said to have secured their pardon for a day.
Hopes of an invitation to the Olympics are unlikely, as 44 women have already qualified for 42 places in the 5000m Tokyo. The playoffs will take place on July 30 and the final on August 2.
Semenya continues to challenge World Athletics’ ruling and has taken her case to the European Court of Human Rights, but the case is unlikely to be completed by the start of the Tokyo Games on July 23.
Last year she tried the 200m as an alternative and lowered her personal best from 24.26 to 23.49, but still well outside the Olympic qualifying mark of 22.80. She then abandoned her plans in favor of the much longer distance as she said she feared injuries.
(Edited by Toby Chopra)