Was Caster Semenya’s Final 100m in Doha the Fastest Ever Run in a Women’s 800?

by LetsRun.com
May 7, 2016

Below is video of Caster Semenya’s dominant 1:58.26 800m win in the Diamond League opener in Doha on Friday where she crushed the field over the final 100m. Semenya toyed with the field, running in lane 2 back in 8th place at the bell before gradually moving up and seizing the lead during the final 100m.

We analyzed the race in our recap, but didn’t put the final 100m in proper perspective.

Pierre-Jean Vazel, a sprint coach, chronicler of the sport and LetsRun.com Twitter follower, threw out the question on Twitter whether Semenya’s final 100m was the fastest final 100m ever run in a women’s race.

At first, the question almost sounds preposterous. Semenya ran 13.6 the final 100m per Vazel and our rewatching of the race. That is fast, but doesn’t seem crazy fast. But at the end of an 800m, runners usually are holding on for their dear lives.

We went and watched Semenya’s 1:55.45 800m PR from the 2009 Worlds and her final 100 couldn’t have been faster than 14.5. We watched world record holder Jarmila Kratochvílová’s 1:54.68 World Championship win in 1983 and can only guess where the 100m to go mark is from watching the 100m, but guess she closed in no faster than 13.9. The fastest 800m in the last 30 years was Pamela Jelimo’s 1:54.01 in Zurich in 2008. We can’t see the 100m mark in that race either but don’t think she closed faster than 14.4.

You can watch the final 100m (or the full race) of Semenya’s run from Doha below. We’ve set it to start with 150m to go.


Ross Tucker of Science of Sport, in a series of two tweets, thinks the run indicates Semenya could challenge Kratochvílová world record of 1:53.28. He qualifies Semenya’s final 100m as being the fastest final 100m in a race won under 2:00. (In a super slow 800m, someone could close really fast).

We’ll open the debate up to you: Was Semenya’s Final 100m the fastest ever?

Update: Pierre-Jean Vazel had another tweet last night where he broke down the fastest final 100m he ever knew about. He believes American Nicole Teter also closed in 13.6 to win the DN Galan meet in 2002 in 1:58.13 over Maria Mutola.


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