Track and Field·Diamond League

Caster Semenya runs to 31st straight 800m win at 45th Prefontaine Classic

Two-time Olympic champion Caster Semenya of South Africa returned to running the 800 metres on Sunday, winning for the 31st consecutive time in the event and extending her title reign at the Prefontaine Classic to three years.

Wins for 3rd year in a row in meet record 1:55.70 while appealing testosterone ruling

Caster Semenya races to the finish line to win the women's 800 metres at the 45th Prefontaine Classic on Sunday in Stanford, Calif. The South African's time of one minute 55.70 seconds is a meet record. (Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

Caster Semenya returned to running the 800 metres on Sunday, winning for the 31st consecutive time in the event and extending her title reign at the Prefontaine Classic to three years.

The 28-year-old South African pulled away from the competition with 200 metres left and won by 20 metres in a meet-record time of one minute 55.70 seconds — the fastest-time ever on U.S. soil — at a sun-splashed Cobb Track and Angell Field in Stanford, Calif.

WATCH | Caster Semenya wins 800 metres by nearly 3 seconds:

Caster Semenya dominates in women's 800m

3 years ago
Duration 5:17
Heavy favourite Caster Semenya coasted past the competition again with a time of 1:55.69 to win her 31st straight women's 800-metre race at the IAAF Diamond League event at Stanford University. 5:17

"We're happy with the win but not how we ran the race," said Semenya, who held the previous meet record of 1:55.92, set last year at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore. "Obviously, when you're running 800 metres it's all about the splits that you run. We're not really calculated well but at the end of the day you have to execute, you have to rectify those mistakes when you're running a race."

Sunday's performance was her first in the 800 since the Swiss Federal Tribunal earlier this month ordered the IAAF to suspend the implementation of testosterone limits for Semenya and others — in women's events from the 400 to mile — who it says were born with typical male chromosome patterns.

Semenya, who has been legally identified as female her whole life, appealed the Court of Arbitration for Sports's initial verdict to Switzerland's supreme court on human rights grounds and won an interim ruling to temporarily suspend the hormone regulations.

"When I run I forget about everything. It's just all about me," Semenya said. "It's all about me being free. It's all about me doing what I love. I treat people with respect and I appreciate them for who they are. I accept them. That's what I do. For me it's all about inspiring the youth so they can be better."

Semenya should be allowed to run, says Wilson 

Semenya's full appeal, to be heard by a panel of Swiss federal judges, could take more than a year.

Ajeé Wilson and Raevan Rogers of the United States rounded out the podium on Sunday in season-best times of 1:58.36 and 1:58.65, respectively.

At last year's 44th Prefontaine Classic, Wilson finished less than a second behind Semenya in 1:56.86, the lowest time by an American woman on U.S. soil.

Wilson was glad to see Semenya cleared to race on Sunday.

"Absolutely I think she should be allowed to run," said the 25-year-old Wilson. "I think everybody should be allowed to compete. The parameters surrounding that, I'm not sure about, but I definitely think she should be able to do what she wants."

My goal is to defend my world title. If I'm not allowed ... I don't give a damn.— South Africa's Caster Semenya on her legal battle with the IAAF

What's next for Semenya is uncertain. She plans to take four weeks off before resuming her circuit, and will await the final ruling from the Swiss court.

If the case drags on without a quick resolution, Semenya will be in line to defend her title at the world championships in Doha, Qatar in September. That's where Semenya ran a world-leading 1:54.98 on May 3 in her last 800 before Sunday.

If the IAAF ruling is upheld, Semenya's appearance in the 800 at the Prefontaine may be her last.

"My goal is to defend my world title," Semenya said. "If I'm not allowed, I'm not allowed. I don't give a damn. This is a legal battle. It's like war. You don't give up. I'm a world champ, I'm an Olympic champion. I've achieved everything that I've ever wanted. At the end of the day I'm just doing it for those that cannot fight for themselves."

For this year only, the track and field competition relocated to Stanford as Hayward Field is being rebuilt for next year's U.S. Olympic trials.

Coleman clocks 9.81, beating Gatlin

Christian Coleman, 23, grabbed bragging rights from reigning world champion and fellow American Justin Gatlin in the men's 100 metres, clocking a 2019 world-leading time of 9.81 seconds. He ran 9.85 two weeks ago at the Bislett Games in Oslo, Norway.

Coleman, who finished second to the 37-year-old Gatlin two years ago at worlds in London, burst out of the starting blocks and held form throughout Sunday's race, prevailing by a half-metre. As he crossed the finish line, Coleman turned to his left and stared down the five-time Prefontaine champion.

WATCH | Christian Coleman beats reigning world champion Gatlin:

Christian Coleman sets world-leading time in men's 100m

3 years ago
Duration 4:21
Christian Coleman ran a 9.81 in the men's 100-metre race at the IAAF Diamond League event at Stanford University. 4:21

Gatlin, the 2016 Olympic silver medallist, stopped the clock in an impressive 9.87, a season best and faster than any of his five races in the 100 from 2018.

Zharnel Hughes of Great Britain was third, matching a season-best 9.97.

WATCH | 'A young man who refused to be held back,' Scott Russell remembers 'Pre':

'A young man who refused to be held back,' Scott Russell remembers 'Pre'

3 years ago
Duration 1:00
CBC Sports' Scott Russell reflects on the short-lived career of one of the most promising track and field athletes of all time, ahead of the annual Diamond League event held in his honour. 1:00

Canada's Mo Ahmed posts 2-mile PB

Mo Ahmed continued his stellar 2019 season, setting a personal-best time of eight minutes 15.76 seconds to place fourth of 15 finishers in the men's two mile.

On June 6, the Somalian-born, St. Catharines, Ont.-raised Ahmed lowered his Canadian-record time in the men's 5,000 to 12:58.16 at the Diamond League's Golden Gala in Rome.

Toronto's Justyn Knight was ninth on Sunday in his second Diamond League competition, stopping the clock in 8:19.75. The former Syracuse University star runner set a 13:09.76 PB earlier this month in Italy.

Joshua Cheptegei of Uganda posted a world-leading time of 8:07.54 to hold off American Paul Chelimo for the win Sunday.

WATCH | Joshua Cheptegei holds off hard-charging Paul Chelimo:

Joshua Cheptegei edges out competition to win men's 2 mile

3 years ago
Duration 12:02
Joshua Cheptegei held off the competition down the home stretch to win the men's 2-mile race at the IAAF Diamond League event at Stanford University. 12:02

Chelimo, who won Olympic silver in the 5,000 three years ago, mounted a late charge on Sunday after trailing Cheptegei by 10 metres with 150 metres remaining. He turned in a 8:07.59 PB while Selemon Barega of Ethiopia was third in 8:08.69, also a PB.

Canada's DeBues-Stafford 6th in 1,500

Toronto native Gabriela DeBues-Stafford finished sixth in a field of 15 in the women's 1,500 metres in four minutes 2.06 seconds.

The 23-year-old, who now lives in Scotland, was coming off a season-best 4:00.46 on June 16 at a Diamond League meet in Rabat, Morocco.

Kenya's Faith Kipyegon won Sunday in 3:59.04, followed by Laura Muir of Great Britain — who trains with DeBues-Stafford —  in 3:59.47 and American Shelby Houlihan (3:59.64).

WATCH | Faith Kipyegon narrowly defeats Laura Muir:

Faith Chepngetich Kipyegon takes women's 1,500m title

3 years ago
Duration 7:20
Faith Chepngetich Kipyegon finished with a time of 3:59.03 in the women's 1,500-metre race at the IAAF Diamond League event at Stanford University. 7:20

Ta Lou takes women's 100m

The women's 100 metres was billed as a showdown between two-time Olympic gold medallist Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica and Sha'Carri Richardson, the former Louisiana State University star who turned professional after dominating at the NCAA championships in early June.

But it was Ivory Coast sprinter Marie-Josee Ta Lou who stole the spotlight with a winning time of 11.02 seconds.

WATCH | Marie-Josee Ta Lou outshines sprint competition:

Marie-Josee Ta Lou tops field in women's 100m

3 years ago
Duration 4:59
Marie-Josee Ta Lou ran a season-best time of 11.02 to win the women's 100-meter race at the IAAF Diamond League event at Stanford University. 4:59

Richardson, 19, was fourth in 11.15 after clocking 10.75 on June 8 to break the NCAA record of 10.78 that stood since 1989 and the world U20 mark set 42 years earlier.

Fraser-Pryce, fresh off a 10.73 clocking at Jamaica's world championships trials on June 21, was eighth in 11.39.

It was a 2-3 American finish, with Aleia Hobbs (11.04) placing ahead of Teahna Daniels (11.13).

Diamond League on CBC Sports

CBC Sports is providing live streaming coverage of all 14 Diamond League meets this season at CBCSports.ca and via the CBC Sports app for iOS and Android devices. TV coverage will be featured as part of the network's Road To The Olympic Games weekend broadcasts throughout the season.

The following is a list of upcoming Diamond League meets, all times ET:

  • Lausanne (July 5, 2–4 p.m.)
  • Monaco (July 12, 2–4 p.m.)
  • London, England (July 20 and 21, 9–11 a.m.)
  • Birmingham, England (Aug. 18, 9–11 a.m.)
  • Paris (Aug. 24, 2–4 p.m.)
  • Zurich (Aug. 29, 2–4 p.m.)
  • Brussels (Sept. 7, 2–4 p.m.)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Doug Harrison has covered the professional and amateur scene as a senior writer for CBC Sports since 2003. Previously, the Burlington, Ont., native covered the NHL and other leagues for Faceoff.com. Follow the award-winning journalist @harrisoncbc

With files from The Associated Press

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