Semenya wins easily again in Finland
Caster Semenya resumed her low-key return to competition Sunday, winning a second straight 800-metre race in Lapinlahti, Finland, in a time far slower than her world title run last August.
The South African cruised to victory at the Savo Games in her second race since was cleared to continue competing as a woman.
She finished in two minutes 2.41 seconds -- almost two seconds faster than at Thursday's comeback race at the Lappeenranta Games. Still, she was seven seconds slower than her national record of 1:55.45 at the 2009 world championships in Berlin.
Semenya appeared relaxed before Sunday's race on a blustery day in the town of less than 8,000 people, almost 500 kilometres north of Helsinki.
She was in full control against a weak field. Britain's Marilyn Okoro, who might have offered some competition, pulled out before the race.
Sofia Oberg of Sweden was a distant second in 2:04.27 and Anna Verhovskaya of Russia was third in 2:04.41. In the absence of any real rivalry, Semenya found it tough to stay with the two pacemakers.
"The race was pretty hard, the pace was fast for me," Semenya said. "It helped me to run a faster time, so I'm quite happy with the performance."
Still, Semenya said she lacks power. Her coach, Michael Seme, agreed.
"The speed is not there. It's still a long way," Seme said. "But it's going according to my plan."
Semenya will return to South Africa to train. Her manager, Jukka Harkonen, said Semenya will be back Europe in August for meets, although he wouldn't offer details.
Semenya said her coach expects her to have times then of 1:56 or 1:57. She hopes to contend for an 800 gold medal at the Commonwealth Games, which begin Oct. 3 in New Delhi.
During her 11-month layoff while she underwent gender testing, Seme and Harkonen tried to shield the 19-year-old. The meets in Finland helped to gently reintroduce her to the spotlight, as well as to competition.
"I'm pretty happy with the performance," Semenya said. "Starting with 2:04 and 2:02 is good."
Harkonen said the trip to Finland worked "100 per cent," although he thought the wind Sunday made Semenya's run difficult.
Semenya's muscular appearance and dramatic improvement in times when she won the world championship gold in Berlin prompted gender tests by track and field's governing body.
It's unclear if Semenya underwent any treatment during her 11 months away. But after months of negotiations between her lawyers and the IAAF, she was allowed to run as a woman.