Caster resting as she eyes Russian revenge
South African middle distance queen Caster Semenya is still recharging her batteries after she bagged the silver medal in the women's 800 metres final at the London Olympic Games in August.
Semenya, who was nominated in two categories on Thursday for the 2012 SA Sports Awards, said she would begin focusing her attention on next year's World Athletics Championships in Moscow, where she hoped to take revenge on Russia's Mariya Savinova, who beat her to the line in the Olympic final.
“We just came back and decided to sit – sometimes the body just needs rest – and we got what we wanted,” Semenya said.
“It was good to give the body rest and focus for next year's world champs.
"Moscow is a big one so we'll just concentrate on that one. I have to go and stump them in their backyard.”
Savinova seemed to have an edge over the South African dating back to last year's global championships in Daegu, South Korea, where she wrested the title from Semenya's grasp.
Unlike her Russian foe, Semenya did not participate in any post-Olympics international meetings, taking a break after a lengthy season.
Semenya's popularity was again highlighted on Thursday night when she was nominated for the Sports Woman of the Year and Sports Star of the Year awards.
“I am very happy, it is such a great achievement for me," she said.
"I haven't been in this field for so long but I feel honoured.
“It is just a great thing for me – my first Olympics and my first medal.
“I wasn't expecting that much, but things happen.”
The 21-year-old said her Olympic achievement had not changed her life significantly, though she was still disappointed with her failure to win gold.
In the Olympic final, Semenya left her attack too late, fighting back over the last 200 metres as Savinova opened a significant gap.
While Semenya has an almost unrivaled kick, she did not have enough energy to carry her past the Russian in the final stretch.
“I don't really feel much different, I am just a little bit disappointed," she said.
"I was expecting a gold medal but I feel great."
She said she would soon start with her pre-season training, and her main aim next year was to reclaim her world title in the Russian capital.
“I am still resting and I think I'll probably start next month, or the end of this month," she said.
"I will start training and take it slowly until the European season.
“I am not too sure about the South African season but hopefully I will have a big one there (in Europe).”
After her silver-medal performance at the Games, Semenya vowed that she would have a massive street bash in her home town in Limpopo, but these plans had not yet come to fruition.
“My friends just organised a surprise party," she said, "but maybe we'll organise that later on. There is no rush."