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Athletics | SA Track & Field

Caster Semenya © Gallo Images

Semenya misses qualifier in season opener

Caster Semenya coasted to victory in her first 800 metres race of the season, clocking a pedestrian time of 2:03.60 to miss the Olympic qualifying standard by more than four seconds on Saturday.

Semenya, who bagged silver at last year's IAAF World Championships in Daegu, was well outside the Olympic qualifying mark of 1:59.90 at the Yellow Pages Series meeting in Potchefstroom.

Admitting she paid for a poor tactical approach, Semenya said she was nonetheless pleased with her performance.

"It was a good race and I enjoyed it," she said.

"I ran a little stupidly because I didn't take the lead from the beginning.

"I thought the other athletes would push the pace, but we all learn from our mistakes."

Semenya said she needed to get the qualifying standard out the way before she set herself a goal for the Olympic Games.

"Everyone knows the Olympics is the most important thing this year, but first I must set the qualifying time, and we'll take it from there."

Another former world 800m champion, Mbulaeni Mulaudzi, made a solid return to the track, winning the men's race in 1:46.41 and missing the qualifying standard for the London Games by 0.81 seconds.

It was Mulaudzi's first race in eight months after he withdrew from last year's global showpiece with an Achilles injury.

"It's good to be back and to feel what it's like to race again," Mulaudzi said.

"I think it was a good start, running 1:46, so I'm happy with that."

Four athletes -- all 200m sprinters -- set Olympic qualifying times in Potchefstroom.

Simon Magakwe stormed across the line in 20.38 seconds to win the men's 200m final, dragging two other athletes under the qualifying mark of 20.55.

Thuso Mpuang was second in 20.50 and Lebogang Moeng finished third in 20.51.

Tsholofelo Thipe also smashed the Olympic qualifying standard (23.10) in the women's 200m sprint, winning the final in 22.89.

One-lap hurdles specialist LJ van Zyl looked rusty in his first race of the season, fading to fourth place in the flat 400m sprint.

The fastest South African in the flat event last year, Van Zyl clocked 46.50 seconds, finishing well behind Willie de Beer who won in 45.81.

Van Zyl said after the race he had picked up flu in the build-up to his season opener.

African javelin throw record holder Sunette Viljoen was outclassed by Jarmila Klimesova of the Czech Republic, who heaved a best effort of 60.96m to beat the South African by well over a metre.

Another Czech athlete, Viteslav Vesely, who was fourth at last year's world championships, defeated countryman Jakub Vadlejeh to win the men's javelin throw with a best effort of 81.72m. Vadlejeh was second with 80.40m.

Charlene Potgieter improved her own national record in the women's triple jump, with a best leap of 13.77m, but she was nonetheless outshone.

Patience Ntshingila was in fine form, jumping 13.89m to set a new SA mark.


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