South Africa’s beloved double Olympic 800m champion Caster Semenya has switched her focus to the 200m sprint event in a bid to qualify for the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Games.
According to CNN, the 29-year-old will be unable to defend the 800m title she won in Rio because she is refusing to comply with new World Athletics regulations that require her to take testosterone-limiting medication.
However, because the rules only apply to events between 400m and 1500m, Semenya’s switch to the 200m will enable her to still pursue her Olympic dreams.
“My dream has always been, and will continue to be, to compete at the highest level of sport,” the athlete announced in a statement via her Instagram account.
“So in order to pursue my goals and dreams, I have decided to change events and compete in the 200m. This decision has not been an easy one, but I look forward to the challenge, and will work hard, doing all I can to qualify for Tokyo and compete to the best of my ability for South Africa.”
Semenya’s new career was off to a good start with a convincing victory during provincial championships over the weekend (she clocked 23.49 seconds during the process).
“I call myself supernatural,” she told reporters afterwards.
“You know me, I always challenge myself. This (switching from 800m to 200m) was not an easy decision to make. I am used to running two laps and then you come and run half a lap. You have to adjust, which is not easy, but anything is possible,” she concluded.