South African 800m runner Caster Semenya
The IAAF World Challenge meeting in Dakar will see Caster Semenya’s first international race of 2015 when she contests the 800m on Saturday (23).
The 2009 world 800m champion and Olympic silver medallist has already had a busy start to the year with no fewer than 10 domestic races at a variety of distances from 400m to 3000m, but two laps of the track is definitely her favourite event.
Semenya is already familiar with the Stade Iba Mar Diop in the Senegalese capital after winning the 800m there at the IAAF World Challenge meeting in 2011.
She can also relax on Saturday as she has already been selected for the South African team that will go to the IAAF World Championships, Beijing 2015 this coming August.
Also in the women’s 800m field is Ethiopia’s talented Fantu Magiso.
The former African 400m junior champion, who was also fourth over 800m at the 2012 IAAF World Indoor Championships, is on the comeback trail after a 2014 season when she was injured and badly out of form. She recently clocked a season’s best of 2:04.35, some way adrift of her national record of 1:57.48 set when winning at the 2012 IAAF Diamond League meeting in New York, but it is her fastest time since the 2013 World Championships.
Benin’s Noelie Yarigo, who reduced her national record to 2:00.51 last year, should also give Semenya and Magiso a run for their money.
In the women’s 3000m steeplechase, Kenya’s 2012 world junior champion Daisy Jepkemei will be looking to make further strides forward after reducing her best to 9:38.16 at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Doha last Friday.
In the shorter distances, Jamaica’s Patricia Hall is the favourite in the women’s 400m while Zambia’s US-based Gerald Phiri will be looking for a fast run but with a record-legal breeze in the 100m after clocking wind-assisted times of 10.02 and then 10.00 last month.
The meeting will also pay homage to IAAF President Lamine Diack, who hails from Senegal.
Phil Minshull for the IAAF