By Gene Cherry
EUGENE, Oregon (Reuters) – South African Olympic and world champion Caster Semenya ran the year’s fastest women’s 800 metres and American Ronnie Baker spoiled Christian Coleman’s outdoor debut with a wind-assisted 9.78 seconds in the 100 metres at the Prefontaine Classic Diamond League meeting on Saturday.
Semenya, whose middle-distance running career could be under threat because of a new IAAF hyperandrogenism rule, clocked one minute 55.92 seconds in a dominant performance as she ran the fastest 800 metres ever on American soil.
The rule, which becomes effective in November, would effectively give Semenya a choice of taking medication to restrict her testosterone level or move to longer distance events. She has not lost an 800 metres race since 2015.
Semenya declined to talk about the rule, saying: “I’m here to perform. To be honest I’m just an athlete. There is nothing I can do, there is nothing I can say about that.”
But after signing autographs and waving to the sell-out crowd, she revealed that some day she might like to run a marathon.
She also said she thought it would be possible to break the 800 world record of 1:53.28 by Czechoslovakia’s Jamila Kratochvilova set in 1983.
“That is the plan. Now it not about running hard, it is running smart,” said the South African who has a best of 1:55.16.
American Ajee Wilson finished second in the race in 1:56.86.
Baker, the world indoor bronze medallist, pulled ahead of 60 metres world-record holder and compatriot Coleman in the final 20 metres to win with an assisting wind of 2.4 metres per second.
Coleman finished second in 9.84 seconds with Britain’s Reece Prescod third in 9.88 seconds.
(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Eugene, Oregon; Editing by Clare Fallon)