The biggest disappointment of this year’s Rio Olympics has to be the time zone difference for South Africans. The first Chad Le Clos final, the alarm was set for 3am and the better half woke to a disappointment and Le Clos finished fourth. And the disruption to the rest of the day was noticeable, and the event was not repeated. Hence watching Rio was in record. So the results weren’t a surprise when catching the repeats, and the adrenalin of the whole event was lost. And to those what did wake up before the sparrows, kudos to you. Gold medals for Wayde van Niekerk and Caster Semenya, plus the total medal count of 10, was missed. At least in four years time, when it heads to Japan, most of the finals will be at lunchtime. It will be interesting to see how that hurts productivity. Well done to all the athletes. – Stuart Lowman
By Jack Stubbs
RIO DE JANEIRO, Aug 20 (Reuters) – Caster Semenya of South Africa took the gold medal in the Olympic 800 metres on Saturday in a personal best time of 1:55.28 seconds.
Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba finished in 1:56.49 seconds to claim the silver, her country’s second medal in any sport at the Olympics. Kenya’s Margaret Wambui won bronze in 1:56.89.
Semenya has dominated the 800m this season and there had been speculation she could take down Czech Jarmila Kratochvilova’s 1983 time of 1:53.28 seconds – the longest standing athletics world record, set in an era when eastern European doping was rife.
Staying with the pack for the first lap, Semenya let Niyonsaba lead the race up to the 600-metre mark before pulling ahead with an injection of pace to take the gold.
After winning the silver medal in London four years ago, the 25-year-old South African has recorded three of the four fastest times in the world this year.
Racing in Rio, however, she was lacking key competition in the form of Russia’s Mariya Savinova and Ekaterina Poistogova, first and third in London, who were barred from the 2016 Games following revelations of state-backed doping in Russian athletics.
Some observers have suggested Semenya is competing with an unfair advantage, albeit one she can do little about.
— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) August 21, 2016
After winning the 2009 world title as a 19-year-old, tests reportedly revealed that she is hyperandrogenous, resulting in her body producing an abnormally high amount of testosterone, which makes her more powerful than her rivals.
An International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) rule limiting the amount of naturally occurring functional testosterone for female athletes appeared to have limited Semenya’s prospects but the rule was quashed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport last year.