Caster Semenya doesn’t plan to race Olympic 400m

Caster Semenya
Getty Images

Caster Semenya is expected to race solely the 800m at the Olympics and not attempt to challenge a Rio 400m field that could include Allyson Felix, her coach said in a phone interview Friday.

“At this stage, and it might all change, she’s definitely only going to run the 800m [in Rio],” said Jean Verster, confirming a South African report, two days before Semenya is set to race an 800m at a Diamond League meet in Rabat, Morocco.

Semenya, the 2012 Olympic 800m silver medalist who had struggled since London, turned heads April 16 when she swept 400m, 800m and 1500m races on the same day at the South African Championships.

The 400m and 800m victories were within an hour of each other and were the fastest times in the world this year in those events up to that point.

Semenya’s 50.74 for the 400m that day marked a personal best and would have qualified for the 2012 Olympic 400m final. However, it was well off Allyson Felix‘s winning 49.26 at the 2015 World Championships.

Semenya’s coach said if the Olympic 800m was at the beginning of the Rio track and field schedule rather than the end, the South African would be more open to attempting a 400m-800m double or an 800m-1500m double.

But the Olympic women’s 800m comes after both the 400m and the 1500m, and Semenya’s focus is on winning one gold medal in the 800m. Running the 400m or 1500m could jeopardize her readiness for the 800m.

Verster noted that’s different from 2004 when Brit Kelly Holmes won the 800m and then the 1500m five days later.

“The main focus is still the 800m in the Olympics,” Semenya said after winning an 800m at a Diamond League meet in Doha on May 6. “Obviously, in the future we’ll try to maybe double in the Olympics or Commonwealth Games, maybe also in the African Champs. The main focus now is to go to Olympics, try to win gold medal.”

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12-year-old skateboarders earn medals at world championships

Chloe Covell

At the world skateboarding championships, 12-year-olds Chloe Covell from Australia and Onodera Ginwoo from Japan earned silver and bronze medals, respectively, in Sunday’s street finals.

In the women’s event, Covell took silver behind Brazilian 15-year-old Rayssa Leal, who was a silver medalist herself at the Tokyo Games.

Frenchman Aurélien Giraud, a 25-year-old who was sixth in skateboarding’s Olympic debut in Tokyo, won the men’s final in the United Arab Emirates. Ginwoo was third behind Portugal’s Gustavo Ribeiro.

The top Americans were Olympic men’s bronze medalist Jagger Eaton in sixth and 15-year-old Paige Heyn in seventh in the women’s event.

Nyjah Huston, a six-time world champion who placed seventh in Tokyo, missed worlds after August surgery for an ACL tear.

Up to three men and three women per nation can qualify per event (street and park) for the 2024 Paris Games. World rankings come June 2024 determine which Americans qualify.

In Tokyo, four of the 12 skateboarding medalists were ages 12 or 13.

Japan’s Kokona Hiraki, then 12, won silver in women’s park to become the youngest Olympic medalist since 1936, according to Japan’s Momiji Nishiya, then 13, won women’s street and became the youngest gold medalist in an individual event since 1936.

Worlds conclude this week with the men’s and women’s park events. The finals are Saturday.

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Francesco Friedrich, most decorated bobsledder in history, rebounds for 12th world title

Francesco Friedrich

A week after his first major championships defeat in seven years, German Francesco Friedrich returned to his winning ways to close the world bobsled championships on Sunday.

Friedrich’s four-man sled won the world title by 69 hundredths of a second over British and Latvian sleds that tied for silver, combining times from four runs over the last two days in St. Moritz, Switzerland. It marked Great Britain’s first world championships men’s bobsled medal since 1966.

Geoff Gadbois drove the lone U.S. sled in the field, finishing 18th.

Friedrich, the most decorated bobsledder in history, extended his records with a fifth consecutive world four-man title and 12th world championship between two- and four-man events.

Germany swept all four titles at bobsled worlds with four different drivers taking gold.

Friedrich had won 12 consecutive Olympic or world titles before taking two-man silver at worlds last week in St. Moritz, Switzerland. He was dethroned in that event by countryman Johannes Lochner.

Friedrich has been hampered recently by a muscle injury from sprint training in late December. Going into worlds, Lochner had won four consecutive World Cup two-man races, while Hall won the last two World Cups in four-man.

Friedrich, 32, said before this season that he plans to make the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games his final competition. Friedrich and push athlete Thorsten Margis can break the record of four career Olympic bobsled gold medals that they currently share with retired Germans Andre Lange and Kevin Kuske.

The World Cup season concludes with stops in Igls, Austria, and Sigulda, Latvia, the next two weekends.

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