Caster Semenya
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Caster Semenya wins Brussels 400m in personal best

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Caster Semenya should definitely be taken seriously in the 400m.

Semenya, the scrutinized Olympic 800m champion, won a 400m race in a massive personal best in the final Diamond League meet of the season in Brussels on Friday.

The South African clocked 50.40 seconds, taking .34 off her personal best set earlier this year. It was her first time racing 400m against a top-level international field.

Semenya came from behind in the race and beat the Rio Olympic third- and fourth-place finishers, collapsing to the track after crossing the finish line. Video is here.

“This was a cheeky one,” Semenya said, according to the IAAF. “I had to come back from behind because I’m not used to run this distance in really important meets. But I’m happy of course with my PB.”

Her time would have placed fifth in Rio, but well behind gold medalist Shaunae Miller of the Bahamas (49.44) and silver medalist Allyson Felix (49.51).

Neither Miller nor Felix was in Friday’s race.

Semenya said on July 15 that she planned to race both the 400m and 800m in Rio, setting a potential anticipated clash with Felix, but she ended up entering just the 800m, as her coach had predicted in the spring.

Full Brussels results are here.

Earlier Friday, Jamaican Olympic champion Elaine Thompson won the 100m in 10.72 seconds (video here). Thompson now owns the three fastest times in the world this year — her national-record-tying 10.70 at the Olympic Trials, 10.71 in Rio and 10.72 on Friday.

“Honestly, I wanted faster this year, but OK, I won,” Thompson said, according to the IAAF.

Thompson became the third woman to clock sub-10.75 for the 100m at least three times in one year, joining Florence Griffith-Joyner (1988) and Marion Jones (1998).

U.S. Olympic silver medalist Sandi Morris became the third woman ever to clear five meters in the pole vault, joining 2004 and 2008 Olympic champion Yelena Isinbayeva and 2012 Olympic champion Jenn Suhr. She then took three attempts at a world-record height of 5.07 meters.

“Next season I’ll try longer poles and adept my grip to a higher grip,” Morris said, according to the IAAF. “If I master this new situation I’m sure I will break the world record soon.”

Morris then sang a line from Anna Kendrick‘s “Cups” in the post-meet news conference.

Shannon Rowbury broke Molly Huddle‘s two-year-old American record in the 5000m, finishing fifth in 14:38.92.

VIDEO: Car beats Kenyan in Diamond League race

Gregorio Paltrinieri swims second-fastest 1500m freestyle in history

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Olympic champion Gregorio Paltrinieri swam the second-fastest 1500m freestyle in history, clocking 14:33.10 in his native Italy on Thursday.

Paltrinieri, 25, missed Chinese Sun Yang‘s world record from the 2012 Olympics by 2.08 seconds.

The Italian now owns the second- and third-fastest times in history, including his 14:34.10 from the 2016 European Championships, also held at the 2012 Olympic pool in London.

Paltrinieri is a versatile distance swimmer. At last year’s world championships, he finished sixth in the open-water 10km to qualify for the Olympics, then won the 800m free in the pool in a European record time and finished with 1500m bronze, just missing a third straight world title in that event.

German Florian Wellbrock won the 1500m in 14:36.54 at worlds, with Paltrinieri finishing 2.21 seconds back.

Sun, 28, was in February banned eight years stemming from destroying a drug-test sample with a hammer in September 2018. Sun, who focused more on the 200m and 400m frees in recent years, did not race the 1500m at the 2017 or 2019 Worlds.

Top-level swim meets in the U.S. are scheduled to resume in November with the Tyr Pro Series.

MORE: Michael Phelps qualifies for first Olympics at age 15

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Bianca Andreescu to miss U.S. Open

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Bianca Andreescu withdrew from the U.S. Open, citing “unforeseen challenges, including the Covid pandemic” compromising her ability to prepare to defend her Grand Slam title.

“I have taken this step in order to focus on my match fitness and ensure that I return ready to play at my highest level,” Andreescu, a 20-year-old Canadian, posted on social media. “The US Open victory last year has been the high point of my career thus far and I will miss not being there. However, I realize that the unforeseen challenges, including the Covid pandemic, have compromised my ability to prepare and compete to the degree necessary to play at my highest level.”

Andreescu’s absence means the U.S. Open, the first Grand Slam tournament since tennis resumed amid the coronavirus pandemic, will be without both 2019 male and female singles champions.

Rafael Nadal previously announced he would not defend his title, saying he would rather not travel given the global situation. Roger Federer is also out after knee surgery. Women’s No. 1 Ash Barty didn’t enter, either, citing travel concerns.

Last year, Andreescu made her U.S. Open title run as the 15th seed, sweeping Serena Williams in the final. Ranked 208th a year earlier, she became the first player born in the 2000s to win a Slam and the first teen Slam winner since Maria Sharapova at the 2006 U.S. Open.

Andreescu then missed the Australian Open in January due to rehab from a knee injury that forced her to retire during a match at the WTA Finals on Oct. 30. She also missed the French Open and Wimbledon in 2019 following a rotator cuff tear.

MORE: Serena Williams, reclusive amid pandemic, returns to tennis competition

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