Caster Semenya made a statement in her return to the 800-metre track on Friday in Doha, Qatar.
But it might be the statement she made after the race that gets the most attention.
At the first Diamond League event of the season — and the last before new testosterone rules takes effect — the South African runner dominated her competition, completing the race in one minute, 54.98 seconds.
Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba, another runner affected by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruling, placed second with a time of 1:57.75.
American Ajee Wilson finished third at 1:58.83.
WATCH | Semenya dominates 1st event since CAS ruling:
South Africa’s Caster Semenya won the opening Diamond League women’s 800 metre race in Doha. It’s the final race before new rules take effect that would force Semenya to lower her testosterone levels for the 800 or 1,500 metre races at major events. 6:19
On Wednesday, Semenya lost her appeal to the CAS against rules designed to decrease naturally high testosterone levels in some female runners.
Friday’s Doha meet marked the final race before the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) applies its new testosterone testing rules in an effort to limit athletes like Semenya, who is believed to have intersex traits. The IAAF says those athletes, whose bodies may not conform to traditional definitions of male or female, have an unfair competitive advantage in women’s events because of their higher testosterone levels.
Semenya now has the option of submitting to the IAAF rules and medically reducing her testosterone to be able to compete in the 800 or 1,500 at major meets. She could also run longer distances and not have to medicate.
Semenya gave away little emotion at the end of the race. She was presented with a bunch of flowers and tossed them to the crowd. She gave a thumbs-up to fans and walked off track.
After the race, Semenya was asked by the Daily Mail’s RiathAl-Samarrai whether she plans to take medication to comply with the IAAF’s regulations and she said, “Hell no.”
“For me, I believe nothing is hard in life because it is up to you how you take life. As an athlete, I believe in sportsmanship and what sports teaches you is to keep pushing on despite all odds. I know life could be difficult at times but I’m a believer and I believe there is always a way to resolve issues,” Semenya said after the race.
“One of my firm beliefs is that there is always a way out for everything. So if a wall is placed in front of me, I jump it. I’m going to keep enjoying my life and live it. I will keep on training and running. To me, impossibility is nothing.”
Canada’s Brown 3rd in season debut
Aaron Brown raced to third place in the men’s 200-metre during his season debut.
The Canadian sprinter’s time of 20.20 seconds place him one-tenth of a second behind Ecuador’s Alex Quinonez (20.19). Turkey’s Ramil Guliyev, sporting his trademark shades, found a late burst to win the race in 19.99 seconds.
Brown, the 26-year-old from Toronto, finished in 20.18 seconds in the same event in Doha in 2018. His personal best remains 19.98 seconds.
WATCH | Brown surges to 3rd in Diamond League season debut:
Toronto’s Aaron Brown finished in third place in the men’s 200 metre race at the Diamond League opening event in Doha, with a time of 20.20 seconds. 4:41
Christabel Nettey, the lone other Canadian competing on Friday, placed fifth in the women’s long jump with a top distance of 6.55 metres.
The 27-year-old from Surrey, B.C., achieved the score on her final jump, falling just shy of her season-best 6.60 and well behind her personal best of 6.99.
Colombia’s Caterine Ibarguen won the event (6.76), while Ukrainian Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk (6.74) took second place and Australian Brooke Stratton (6.73) took third.
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