Cape Town – Caster Semenya advanced easily to the semi-finals of the 800m after winning her first round heat at the IAAF World Championships on Thursday.
Semenya, a bronze medallist in the 1500m in London as she attempted an audacious double, clocked 2min 01.33sec.
“I just want to keep winning,” said the South African, dogged by gender accusations since shooting to fame when she won world gold in Berlin in 2009.
“That’s all I’m concentrating on. I’m feeling okay after the 1500m, so I’m ready to go again.”
Defending world 800m champion Maryna Arzamasova of Belarus could only finish fourth in her heat, out of the automatic three qualifiers from each of the six heats.
Kenya’s Margaret Wambui, bronze medallist at both the world indoors and Olympics last year, won that heat, but Arzamasova’s season’s best of 2:01.92 was not fast enough to see her bag one of the faster loser places.
Wambui’s teammate Eunice Sum, world champion in Moscow in 2013 and bronze medallist in Beijing two years later, was a late withdrawal.
Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi, world indoor champion and Olympic silver medallist, also qualified with heat victory in 1:59.86.
There was more good news for South Africa as Gena Löfstrand managed to qualify for the semi-finals as well despite finishing seventh in her heat. Her time was fast enough to secure her one of the fastest losers positions for the semis.
The semi-finals will take place on Friday from 20:35.
In the men’s javelin, South Africa’s Rocco van Rooyen needed to either throw over 83m or finish in the top 12 to proceed to the next stage of the competition. Unfortunately, his best throw of 74.02 was not good enough to proceed.
In the women’s 200m semi-final, South Africa’s Justine Palframan was unable to qualify for the final of the event. Palframan finished in seventh place in her heat in a time of 23.21. The heat was won by event favourite Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands.