CAPE TOWN (Reuters) – Caster Semenya will chase a golden double at next month’s world championships in London after adding the women’s 1500 meters to her 800m entry, Athletics South Africa (ASA) said on Tuesday.
Semenya, who had to undergo gender testing before being cleared to compete as a woman after winning the world 800m title in 2009, is the Olympic champion at the shorter distance.
She set a world-leading time of 1:55.27 last week in Monaco at the Diamond League meeting, which is also her personal best. The 26-year-old has rarely raced in the 1500m, but won the African title in Durban last year in 4:01.99 which allows her to enter the event in London.
She will also form part of the South Africa team for the 4x400m relays, ASA added.
The 1500m heats are on the opening day of the championships on Aug. 4 with the final three days later, while the 800m heats start on Aug. 10.
Semeya’s double bid follows the example of compatriot Wayde van Niekerk, who is seeking gold in the men’s 200m and 400m.
Semenya has had to contend with controversy throughout her career.
After winning the 2009 world title as a 19-year-old, tests reportedly revealed that she is hyperandrogenous, resulting in her body producing an abnormally high amount of testosterone, which makes her more powerful than her rivals.
An International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) rule limiting the amount of naturally occurring functional testosterone for female athletes appeared to have restricted Semenya’s prospects but that rule was then quashed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
(Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Ken Ferris)