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  • Writer's pictureCharles Baloyi

Semenya withdrew from AGN 5 000m

The poster girl of SA athletics, Caster Semenya, did not honour her invitation to take part in the Athletics Gauteng North meeting at the University of Pretoria on Saturday. Semenya was scheduled to run the 5000m at Tuks, but withdrew at the eleventh hour leaving organisers frustrated. AGN president John Mathane said he received a phone call from her not too long before she was supposed to run her race.

Caster Semenya (centre) took on the Ugandan pair of Halimah Nakaayi (left) and Winnie Nanyondo (right) at the Tuks Stadium during the 2018 Liquid Telecom Athletix Grand Prix Series. Photo Credit: Tobias Ginsberg.

“I received a phone call from her, and she told me that she would not run her race. She called to withdraw her entry. I am disappointed, but I had no choice but to understand her withdrawal. She did not disclose the reason why she could not go ahead with the race anymore. She told me that she would not be able to come and requested that we take her name off the list, “explained Mathane.

The double 800m Olympic champion had set tongues wagging in the running community on Friday about her return to the track, even if it was not going to be in her specialist event. A ruling by World Athletics (which Semenya is fighting) prevents her from competing in the 400m, 800m, or 1500m events because of a the perceived competitive advantage she gains from her naturally higher levels of testosterone.

AGN President John Mathane (second from left) picture alongside (from left to right) Anaso Jobodwana, Justin Gatlin, ASA President Aleck Skhosana and Akani Simbine during the 2018 Liquid Telecom Athletix Grand Prix Series. Photo Credit: Tobias Ginsberg.

Despite her withdrawal, The AGN boss said he would still like to see her run in their events, and he said that he would like to help her to qualify for the Olympic Games over a distance that she prefers to run. “I waited with anticipation to see her run. But it could not happen, and we forgive her for that. We believe that next time she will be able to come here and run her race. We want to see our champion happy and running again,” said Mathane.

Two weeks ago Athletics SA (ASA) opened the track and field season after a six month hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and big stars around the country are ready to return to the track. AGN will host a couple of meetings before the end of the year, and Mathane expressed his desire to see the champion taking part one of their events again soon.  

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