Caster kicks Budd
Zola Budd's record has stood for longer than Caster Semenya has been alive
Caster Semenya finally broke Zola Budd’s 1,500m national record as she landed South Africa’s ninth gold of the Commonwealth Games on Tuesday.
Semenya‚ the Olympic and world 800m champion‚ set herself up for a golden double after winning the 1500m in a 4min 00.71sec Games record that knocked more than a second off Budd’s 4:01.81 record set up in Port Elizabeth on March 21 1984.
“Actually I knew in the last lap the record is gone‚ I just have to maintain the pace‚” said Semenya‚ adding she would break four minutes before the end of season.
“I know I’m able to go under four minutes now so I don’t have to worry a lot about that now in training. I just have to fix some errors‚ I just need a bit of speed there now.”Semenya ran with her usual confidence‚ sitting in fifth place behind leader Beatrice Chepkoech of Kenya before making her move with 250m to go.
When she attacked‚ nobody could respond‚ although the two medallists behind her both set personal bests‚ Chepkoech 4:03.09 and Melissa Courtney of Wales 4:03.44.
“As a middle-distance runner, I think I’ve done enough for my collection, but this was for my country, this was for the youth,” said Semenya, as she celebrated her first Commonwealth medal.
Budd, who now lives in the United States, was at her peak in the 1980s when she broke world records in the 5,000m, 2,000m and indoor 3,000m. She also won two world cross-country titles.
Barefoot on the the track, minibus taxis were dubbed Zola Budds after her, and local pop diva Brenda Fassie recorded a hit song called Zola Budd.
Budd also held the one mile (1991) record and, if she had not taken British citizenship to compete at the 1984 Olympics, she would also own the 3,000m mark.At the Commonwealth Games on Monday, countryman Akani Simbine won a stunning men’s 100m gold in a shock South African one-two ahead of Jamaican favourite Yohan Blake.
Semenya said after her win: “We are inspiring the youth back there so I just want to show them it is possible, they can do it, they just need to wake up."Asked if she was now targeting the 800m world record at the Games — the final is on Friday — she replied: “I can say the weather is nice here and I am ready.”
Semenya, one of the biggest draws at a Games short on star names, added: “I want everyone to know that South African athletes are here to stay.
“I’m proud to be a South African, we are a great nation and we want to display that to the world.”
- Additional reporting by AFP