Semenya clinches distance double at Commonwealth Games
GOLD COAST, Australia (AP) — The world record has stood since 1983. As far as Caster Semenya is concerned, it can wait a few more months.
Semenya won her favored 800 meters in a Commonwealth Games record of 1 minute, 56.68 seconds on Friday night to complete a middle-distance double on the Gold Coast.
The two-time Olympic 800 champion won the 1,500 earlier in a games record time, too, and wanted to enjoy the moment. She went close to the double at the world championships last year, finishing with gold in the 800 and bronze in the longer race.
After her convincing win, questions turned — as they inevitably do for Semenya — to the world record of 1:53.28 set by Jarmila Kratochvilova 35 years ago.
“I’m still young — just turned 27. Still want to have three, four ... months before I decide if I want a world record or not,” she said. “Obviously it’s not that much important at the moment. What’s important now is to be able to win every race that I run.”
For now, that means winning the 800-1,500 double at every major championship right through to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. After that, who knows?
“We need to run four championships in doubles and then decide if we still have speed for the 800,” she said. “If we do, we continue with 800. If not, we go further. We have 5,000 and 10k — I believe I can still do better in future.
“I feel I can fit into distance running. For me, this is more than a game.”
After Semenya’s double over the middle distance, Joshua Cheptegei completed a longer distance-double for Uganda, adding the 10,000-meter title in a games record 27:19.62 to go with his earlier win in the 5,000.
New Zealanders flocked to the Carrara Stadium hoping for two gold medals, with Valerie Adams targeting a fourth consecutive Commonwealth Games title in the shot put and Eliza McCartney among the favorites in the women’s pole vault. They both finished with silver.
Canada’s Alysha Newman set a games record 4.75 meters to win the pole vault, beating McCartney by 5 centimeters.
Jamaica’s Danniel Thomas-Dodd’s last shot of 19.36 was good enough for gold, breaking a tie with Adams at 18.70.
The 33-year-old Adams, coming back to competition for the first time since having her first child last year, said having her family and baby in the crowd helped give her perspective.
“It’s been an amazing six months of my life,” she said. “Today I left my heart out there. It was a great fight — Danniel deserved to win. She threw a massive throw, she’s young and strong and in shape.”
After her event, Adams went to the stands to hug her daughter, Kimoana, and her family. The two-time Olympic champion said she’ll consult with her family before deciding on whether to keep training for Tokyo.
“I can’t be selfish anymore, it’s not just me,” Adams said. “If anyone asked me if I was going to be competing with a child, not at all, I could never see myself coming back. But it’s possible. That gives you perspective on life.”
The night’s last event, the women’s 100-meter hurdles, was expected to be Australia’s moment. World and former Olympic champion Sally Pearson featured in all the promotional material as the local girl at the game, but withdrew before the program started with an injury.
With Pearson watching in the stadium, Oluwatobiloba Amusan of Nigeria won in a meet record 12.68 from Jamaicans Danielle Williams and Yanique Thompson.
After competing in seven disciplines in two days, England’s Katarina Johnson-Thompson won the heptathlon with 6,255 points, a margin of 122 over silver-medalist Nina Schultz of Canada.
In a dramatic finish in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, Olympic and world champion Conseslus Kipruto won in a meet record 8 minutes, 10.08 seconds to lead a sixth consecutive Kenyan sweep of the medals in that event at the Commonwealth Games.
Urging his teammates on as he moved into lane two coming out of the final curve, Kipruto started his celebrations halfway down the last stretch and was followed in by Abraham Kibiwott.
Canada’s Matthew Hughes was in strong position for a bronze to break Kenya’s monopoly of the medals but, despite a desperate dive across the finish line, he couldn’t hold off the fast finishing Amos Kirui.
Hughes ended on his hands and knees, exhausted and frustrated again. Hughes was fourth at Glasgow four years ago as well.
“I’ve never done that before in my entire life — it was instinct,” Hughes said of his dive. “I’m sick and tired of coming here ... my mentality was rewrite the script — the Kenyans just come in here and do whatever they want and nobody tries to mess up their plans.”