Semenya cruises through 800m heat

She surged from behind at around the 200m mark to cruise to victory in the second heat of the afternoon.

FILE: Caster Semenya. Picture: AFP.

CAPE TOWN - Caster Semenya has won her opening 800m race of the 2016 Rio Olympics in a time of 1:59.31.

Semenya surged from behind at around the 200m mark to cruise to victory in the second heat of the afternoon.

American Ajee Williams was second and qualified automatically with Semenya. The pair will run in the 800m semi-finals tomorrow.

Semenya says it wasn't as easy as it looked.

"It was not easy; it's really hot outside. I was just trying to hang on and to feel my body first so I can feel comfortable. I just tried to get to the top two in the last 200m so I can be safe for the semi-finals."

Semenya also addressed the semi-finals and breaking a world record.

"I'm not focusing on breaking the world record, I'm just focusing on enjoying my championship so I can run well in the 800m. Times don't matter in championships, what matters is a medal."

On whether she is worried about injuries, Semenya says, "I'm trying to run my way so I can do better, so far I have not sustained any injuries."

Earlier there were questions, mostly from the international media, about Semenya's physicality and her eligibility to compete in women's events at the Games.

The Olympic silver medallist has won the women's 400, 800 and 1,500m titles - the first athlete in South African history to win those three races at the same event.

Sports Psychologist Dr Jannie Botha earlier said the recent debate regarding the fairness around Semenya competing in the Women's 800m race would not affect her.

Semenya's increased testosterone levels, which are generated naturally, have seen intense debate around gender within sport with some saying that it is a distinct advantage over the other women.

"The biological parts are not affected because she's secure on who she is. In performance there are two things that will affect you; your confidence and your focus. So, while they are performing, if the media influence affects her confidence, it will affect her outcome or if the media influence affect her focus, it will affect her outcome (sic)."

WATCH: Julius Malema says Caster Semenya is a champion


  1. Semenya's idol is a three-time 800-meter world champion Maria Mutola.

  1. She was on born Mogkadi Caster Semenya on 7 January, 1991. She has three sisters and a brother and grew up in a village in Polokwane.

  1. Semenya was studying Sports Science at the University of Pretoria.

  1. Semenya is the South African champion in 400m, 800m and 1500m.

  1. Semenya was South Africa's flag bearer at the London Olympics in 2012, where she won a silver medal in the 800m.

LISTEN: Semenya shines in the women's 800m qualifier in Rio

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