Caster Semenya targeting medals, not records

She cruised to victory in her heat in a time of 1:59.31 to book her spot in Friday morning’s semi-finals.

FILE: Caster Semenya. Picture: AFP.

RIO DE JANEIRO - With Team South Africa having bagged one gold medal already at the Rio Olympics in the form if Wayde van Niekerk, focus now shifts to Caster Semenya as she began her campaign in the 800m.

She cruised to victory in her heat in a time of 1:59.31 to book her spot in Friday morning's semi-finals but it's the intense media spotlight that she's under that's proving to be a major story in Rio.

Despite the huge hype around Semenya getting her 800m campaign underway, the media glare that's been huge and the big showing of support, particularly among South Africans, today's heats were a relatively low-key affair.

Semenya has played her part too and hasn't shied away from the controversy, using her social media platforms to welcome criticism and seemingly use that as fuel in her quest to win gold.

She got her campaign off to the perfect start in Rio in hot conditions, bustling her way to a comfortable 1:59.31 to book a spot in the semi-finals.

With talk of a world record on the cards, that's not something she says she's too focused on.

"Times don't matter in the championships, what matters is a gold, silver or a bronze medal. So that's the target, we're not going to worry about times at the moment."

Semenya breezed through the media zone afterwards and headed straight back for the athlete's village, where she'll shift her sights on booking a spot in Saturday's final in what could well be the biggest event watched at the Rio Games.

Meanwhile, Semenya's grandmother, Mmaphuti Sekgala, believes she could run faster than she did today and win gold on Sunday.

Eyewitness News visited the home village where Semenya was raised and spoke to Sekgala who said she was over the moon with Semenya's progression Friday's semi-finals.

"I wish her all the best on Friday and Sunday. May she win like she has today. We say congratulations to her and she has made us happy. We hope she continues and runs faster than she did today."