Caster Semenya’s eleven month exile from competition put paid to her return to the international athletic scene when the world 800m champion failed to meet the required times in a specially arranged time trial on Wednesday morning.

The Pretoria based athlete was officially given the green to return to competition after a ‘landmark’ ruling by the IAAF late yesterday afternoon. In welcoming her back into the fold Athletics South Africa (ASA) quickly arranged for a fitness test which it was hoped would justify the late selection of the athlete to the team for the World Junior championships in Canada which commence on 19 July.

Semenya made two attempts at running 600m time trial in one minute 32 seconds or less, but failed to make the mark on either occasion.

“She ran 1:38 and she had a five minute break then she ran 1:35,” said Coach and National selector Michael Seme.

“They (ASA) said she can try and prove her fitness before the African Championships, so she will run one or two meeting in Europe, and we will take it from there”

The 19 year old last competed in the Berlin World Championships in August where she scorched the track in 1 minute 55.45 seconds to win the gold medal and world crown. There is little doubt that the eleven month lay-off, and just as likely the emotional release of Tuesday night’s celebrations at Sandton, where she watched Holland beat Uruguay, will have had an effect on Wednesday’s performance.

A couple of weeks more intense training should put her in the frame for a team place for the African Championships in Nairobi on 28 July.  It is widely expected that she will be provisionally named as part of the team which is due to be released later today, but whether she can reach the peak levels she achieved last August remains to be seen. More likely is that it will take until the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi in October before she realistically becomes a medal contender.

“I’m back, Yeah, I’m back,” exclaimed the junior athlete during Tuesday night’s celebratory dinner, “I’m delighted – I was born to run”.  Certainly no-one could deny the athlete’s right to feeling a bit drained after the emotionally draining period of  deplorable public scrutiny, but she and the sport will be looking forward to a resumption of ‘normal service’ in the coming weeks.

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