After missing out on an Olympic gold medal in the women’s 800 four years ago, South African Caster Semenya arrived in Rio intent on making sure that wasn’t the case this time around.
Semenya did just that, grabbing control of the race over the final 200 meters to win in comfortable fashion. Semenya finished in 1:55.28, more than a full second better than silver medalist Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi (1:56.49). While Semenya was well off the World and Olympic records, she did set a new national record in the 800, and she is South Africa’s second female track and field gold medalist with the first coming in 1952 (Esther Brand, long jump).
Niyonsaba is Burundi’s first female track and field medalist. Taking bronze was Margaret Wambui of Kenya, who finished in 1:56.89.
American Kate Grace, the national champion in the 800, finished eighth in 1:59.57. The U.S. hasn’t won a medal in the woman’s 800 since 1988, when Kim Gallagher took bronze (Gallagher also took silver in the event in 1984).