Caster Semenya runs to 31st straight 800m win at 45th Prefontaine Classic
Wins for 3rd year in a row in meet record 1:55.70 while appealing testosterone ruling
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:
"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."
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.
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— 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
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:
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':
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.
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:
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:
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:
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.)
With files from The Associated Press