Athletics-Semenya bids for 5000m slot at Tokyo Olympics

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By Mark Gleeson

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - Caster Semenya, denied an opportunity to win a third successive Olympic 800 metres gold, will on Friday attempt to qualify for the Tokyo Games over 5000m.

Semenya will run in a meeting in Durban where she must dramatically improve her personal best over the distance to be able to go to the Olympics in two month’s time.

The 30-year-old South African is banned from competing in any race from 400m to a mile after World Athletics ruled in 2018 that in order to ensure fair competition women with high natural testosterone levels must take drugs to reduce them to compete in middle-distance races.

Semenya, who refuses to take medication to alter her testosterone levels, has challenged the ruling but seen several appeals dismissed. The 5000m is therefore her best chance to go to the Tokyo Games.

Semenya set a time of 15:52.28 in winning the South African title over 5000m in Pretoria last month but it was 42 seconds slower than the 15:10.00 needed in order to qualify for the Olympics.

Last year Semenya considered attempting the 200m but quickly gave up plans, saying she saw no future for herself in sprints and feared injury.

Semenya continues to challenge World Athletics' ruling and has taken her case to the European Court of Human Rights but the case is unlikely to be completed by the time the Games begin in July.

Her attorney Greg Nott told local media this week Semenya was hoping to have the matter settled before next year’s World Athletics Championship in Eugene, Oregon.

(Editing by Toby Davis)

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