May 5, 2017
The much-anticipated 800 matchup between Olympic 800 gold medallist Caster Semenya and 1500 world record holder Genzebe Dibaba at the Diamond League opener in Doha proved to be no contest as Semenya did exactly what she’s done ever since the Court of Arbitration for Sport lifted the IAAF’s rules on hyperandrogenism — she totally dominated.
Semenya won in 1:56.61 as Rio bronze medallist Margaret Wambui was the only woman anywhere close to her, taking second in 1:57.03. Genzebe Dibaba ended up fifth in 1:59.37.
Before the race started, broadcaster Stuart Storer on the international feed indicated that Dibaba had requested that the rabbit go out in 55 but that Caster Semenya had vetoed that request and 57 was the prescribed pace. Well once the gun went off, Dibaba didn’t race like someone who wanted to go out in 55 as the only person close to the rabbit at 200 (27 mid to high) was former NCAA champ Natoya Goule as Dibaba hit 200 in 28 high. At 400 (57.61 for the rabbit), the leading racers were very close to 58 flat as Goule, Wambui and Dibaba were side by side. Semenya was two places back, about 3-4 meters behind the leading trio.
On the backstretch, Semenya made her move to the front and she got the lead just before hitting 600 in 1:28.12. Wambui and Dibaba did their best to stay close on the turn. Wambui stayed within a few meters but Dibaba started to drop back and once they thit the homestretch, it was clear that Dibaba was totally fried. Semenya and Wambui pulled WAY clear of the field with Dibaba winning comfortably as Wambui never gained on her coming home (Wambui lost a little ground over the final 100).
In the end, Semenya beat Wambui by .42 and everyone else in the field (aka everyone whom it’s believed the CAS decision didn’t impact) by more than 2 seconds, as 2013 world champ Eunice Sum moved up to claim third in 1:58.76.
There was one American in the field. Charlene Lipsey ran an outdoor pb of 2:00.29 for 6th.
Quick Thought #1: Semenya Is In The Best Early-Season Form Of Her Life
While Caster Semenya has been utterly dominant since the CAS ruling, it must be noted that in her career, she hasn’t run that many 1:56s. In fact, she’s only run 1:56 in three years (2009, 2011 and 2016; her pb is 1:55.36, from last year). This is the earliest she’s ever run under 1:57 in a year, coming three weeks earlier than when she ran 1:56.64 on May 22, 2016.
Quick Thought #2: One of Our Sayings For Athletes Is “You Can’t Complain When You PR,” But We May Break That Rule For Charlene Lipsey
Lipsey ran aggressively (she was just ahead of Semenya at 400) but ultimately only ended up running 2:00.29. Now 2:00.29 is an outdoor pb for Lipsey (previous pb 2:00.60) but we say she ‘only’ ran that because she had a sensational indoor campaign, during which she ran 1:58.64.
So congrats Charlene, you were so good indoors we’ll let you feel a little bit disappointed about this one even though it violates one of our mantras.
Talk about the meet on our fan forum: Track and Field’s Opening Day Is Here – Official 2017 Doha DL Live Discussion Thread.
— LetsRun.com (@letsrundotcom) May 5, 2017