Allyson Felix-Caster Semenya clash unlikely for world championships

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Don’t expect to see Allyson Felix and Caster Semenya go head-to-head at the world championships this summer.

The Olympic 800m champion Semenya is “pretty much focusing” on the 800m this season “at this stage,” her coach, Jean Verster, said Monday.

“We’ll see later on in the season because we are planning to hopefully run a few other distances if possible [before worlds in August],” Verster said by phone. “Maybe just a few 400s and a couple of 1500s. We’ll see how it goes, but at this stage the focus is purely on the 800m [for worlds].”

Semenya talked last July of entering both the 400m and 800m in Rio, but she ended up racing solely the 800m at her first Olympics. Semenya easily won gold in 1:55.28, a national record.

Three weeks after the Olympics, Semenya lowered her 400m personal best to 50.40 seconds in the Diamond League season finale in September. She came from behind to beat the Olympic third- and fourth-place finishers.

Neither Olympic gold medalist Shaunae Miller (49.44 in Rio) nor silver medalist Felix (49.51) was in that race.

Semenya has already raced the 400m at two meets this season, clocking 51.60 and 51.84, comparable to her times at the same April meets last year. She ranks No. 9 in the world for 2017.

Then last Friday, Semenya dominated the Diamond League season-opening 800m in 1:56.61. Semenya has never run faster before the month of July. She is entered in the Prefontaine Classic 800m on May 27, her first race in the U.S. since 2011.

Verster said Semenya was behind schedule compared to last year due to off-track commitments.

“Seeing this year as a fun year and not as much pressure as last year with the Olympics,” he said. “At this stage we kind of catch up a little bit in terms of the training. In that sense, we were extremely happy with the way we started in Doha.”

Neither Miller nor Felix has raced a 400m since Rio.

Miller has said she plans to race the 200m and 400m at worlds in London in August.

Felix has a bye into the worlds 400m as defending world champion and plans to race the shorter sprints at the U.S. Championships next month. It hasn’t been decided if Felix hopes to double at worlds.

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