Olympic and World Champion Caster Semenya delivered a remarkable performance on Sunday to set a new world best over the 600m distance at the penultimate leg of the IAAF World Challenge series in Berlin, Germany.
Turning out as the lone South African representative at the 76th edition of the ISTAF in Berlin’s Olympic Stadium, Caster Semenya cruised to victory in 1:21.77, improving the former 20 year-old mark from Cuba’s Ana Fidelia Quirot (1:22.63) by almost one second.
Guided by pacemaker Ilona Usovich of Belarus until almost 400m, Semenya took nearly four seconds off her PB and SA’s best of 1:25.56 – which had stood for more than five years – in fine weather conditions.
Second placed Ajee Wilson of the US ran a North American area record with 1:22.39 while Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi took third in 1:23.18.
“I won my first world title her in Berlin, so this city is special for me. I wanted to deliver to this amazing people,” said Semenya. “The 600m is a bit easier compared to the 800m. I love speed, so I liked it.”
“It’s been a beautiful and eventful long season for a dedicated athlete and we congratulate Caster for being part of the current breed of South African athletes leading in flying the national flag high around the world,” said Aleck Skhosana, the President of Athletics South Africa.
“We are proud of her, her coach and the rest of her support staff for the great work done to make her perform the way she has over the two seasons including at the Olympic Games in Rio last year and the IAAF World Championships,” he added.
Meeting record for Tanui
In other events, a meeting record was established by Kenya’s Norah Tanui who took the 3,000m Steeplechase in 9:03.70, smashing the former meeting record which stood at 9:21.64.
Her compatriot, and pacemaker Caroline Tuigong guided the field through the 1,000 m mark in 3:02.56 and then dropped out.
The pace remained high with a 6:07.88 split time for 2k. America’s World Championships silver medallist Courtney Frerichs was in the lead at this point, but she did not finish. It was then Tanui stormed away for victory.
German Gesa Krause, who was unlucky in London when she was tripped and fell in the final, ran a great race late in the season, improving her national record from 9:15.70 to 9:11.85.
There was a personal best for Christina Manning in the 100 m Hurdles as well. The American ran a fine 12.54 with a 1.4 tailwind. Danielle Williams of Jamaica was second in 12.58 while Alina Talay (Belarus) took third with 12.72.
The ninth and final leg of the World Challenge series is set to be held in Zagreb, Croatia on Tuesday.