Caster holding aloft the South African flag in one of her outings in 2016

World Leader in the women’s 800m, Caster Semenya lived up to her billing as the tournament favourite, racing to her first Olympic title in a National Record (NR) of 1:55.28 on the final day of Track and Field at the Rio 2016 Games.

The African Champion, who has remained unbeaten this year, took an early lead, leaving nothing to chance to maintain her pace in the race.

World Indoor Champion Francine Niyonsaba overtook the South African at some point but eventually ran out of the steam with about 250m to go, as Semenya took the lead once again to cross the finishing line first.

The Burundi athlete came in 2nd in 1:56.49, with Kenya’s Margaret Nyairera Wambui setting a Personal Best (PB) of 1:56.89 in 3rd place.

Many had expected the 2009 World Champion to go for the World Record (WR) of 1:53.28, but Jarmila Kratochvílová’s 33-year old record survived the onslaught. Nevertheless the 4th, 5th and 6th finishers all set PBs, reminiscent of the men’s 800m final in London four years ago.

Beijing 2015 Silver medallist, Canada’s Melissa Bishop raced to an NR of 1:57.02 in 4th place, while Joanna Józwik of Poland and Great Britain’s Lynsey Sharp set PBs of 1:57.37 and 1:57.69. Reigning World Champion Marina Arzamasova placed a distant 7th in 1:59.10.

Caster Semenya

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Yemi Olus is a Senior Sports Writer and Editor at Making of Champions. She has a bias for Athletics and was previously a Sports Reporter at the National Mirror, where she hosted a weekly column ‘On the Track with Yemi Olus’ for over two years. A self-acclaimed ‘athletics junkie’, she has covered national and international events live, such as the African Athletics Championships, African Games and IAAF World Championships. She has also freelanced for the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) and currently hosts a weekly Track and Field column in the Vanguard Newspaper.

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