London 2012

South Africa youngster Caster Semenya will be targeting gold in both the 800 and 1500 metres at the London Olympics.

Fascinating Facts:

  • Semenya improved her personal best by almost four seconds when winning the African junior 800m title in 1:56.72 in July 2009, which at the time was the fastest in the world that year
  • British magazine New Statesman included Semenya in its list "The World's 50 Most Influential Figures 2010.
  • There was an improvement of 16.53 seconds between Semanya's time at the World Junior Championships in July 2008 and the Berlin World Championships in August 2009.

The middle distance star hit the headlines at the age of just 18 following her emphatic victory over 800m at the World Championships in Berlin when she found herself at the centre of a huge gender-testing row.

Semenya finished over two seconds ahead of Kenya's Janeth Jepkosgei and Jenny Meadows of Great Britain to win gold in a personal best time of 1:55.45, prompting questions to be raised over her physical condition.

She was subsequently sidelined from the sport as the International Association of Athletics Federations investigated the doubts over her gender, with officials looking into her high levels of testosterone.

A long-running saga ensued which saw Athletics South Africa (ASA) head coach Wilfred Daniels resign due to his belief that Semenya had been badly advised and ASA president Leonard Chuene suspended for lying about her not having gender tests before Berlin when in fact she did.

Eventually Semenya was given the all-clear to return in July 2010 after an 11-month wait and the following month she returned to the Olympic Stadium in Berlin to claim an impressive victory over a high-class field in a more modest time of 1:59.90.

Her main target for the year was the Commonwealth Games in Delhi but she was sadly forced to miss the event due to injury.

Although the gender debate may never be forgotten, Semenya will surely be one of the biggest names at the London Games and a double gold is most certainly on the cards.