Awards drive Semenya on to achieve further success on track

AS THE curtain fell on the South African Sports Awards at Emperors Palace on Sunday, 800m,Picture: Gallo Images

AS THE curtain fell on the South African Sports Awards at Emperors Palace on Sunday, 800m Olympic champion Caster Semenya said the bronze medal she won in the 1 500m at the IAAF World Championship in London was the highlight of her year.

On Sunday, Semenya capped off her successful year, which also saw her win gold in the 800m women’s race, by winning the sportswoman and people’s choice awards.

“The World Championships are the most incredible achievement. Winning a gold medal there was good and then winning bronze in the 1 500m is one of the most amazing achievements because I have never run that on the international stage,” Semenya said.

“The last time I ran the 1 500m was in the African Juniors in 2009 and going into the world stage and to be able to make the final is an achievement, but winning the bronze is one of the moments I will cherish for the rest of my life. So it has been amazing.” Semenya is already looking forward to what she described as a busy 2018. She will be competing in both the 800m and 1 500m events at the Commonwealth Games.

“We have the Commonwealth Games early in the year in April, then we will have the Diamond League circuit and we still have Intercontinental African Championships,” Semenya said. “It’s a long year for us. It’s early season now and the preparations are short so you need to know what you are doing. “So we need to be clever in terms of the programme. Hopefully, we will do well because we still have to double the 800m and 1 500m. So I cannot wait to start the season next year.”

The 26 year old said she was not surprised by the people’s choice award, for which she was up against Wayde van Niekerk, Luvo Manyonga, Kagiso Rabada and Chad le Clos. “I don’t know how to explain it but the support I have been receiving from the South Africans when we perform out there, it is really incredible.

“I always want to represent my country with all of my heart and the South African’s are my pride and I’m proud to be South African. “I really appreciate their support, the love from them is amazing.”