Prudence Sekgodiso: ‘No one can beat me – but I’m not the next Caster Semenya’

Prudence Sekgodiso in action at the Kip Keino Classic in May
Prudence Sekgodiso won the 800m at the Kip Keino Classic in Nairobi last month
Dates: June 8th to 12th Place: Cote d’Or Stadium, Mauritius Session times (GMT, approx): 04:30-09:30 and 11:00-14:00

South Africa’s rising track and field star Prudence Sekgodiso hopes to emulate fellow countryman Caster Semenya by winning his first international track and field title in Mauritius this weekend.

The 20-year-old will compete for the 800m title at the African Championships in Athletics on the island where Semenya first excelled.

Semenya won world junior gold at the same distance in 2009, before dominating the discipline in the following decade.

Sekgodiso excelled in his Diamond League debut in Morocco last Sunday, taking second place in challenging conditions.

“As it was my first race at this level, it was probably better not to have won,” Sekgodiso told BBC Sport Africa.

“Looking at what she’s done, it’s great to be compared to Caster, but I don’t like the comparison to be honest.

“That brings a lot of pressure. I’m trying to be the first Prudence, not the next Caster.”

Semenya is a two-time Olympic champion and three-time world champion in the 800m.

However, the 31-year-old has been barred from competing in her favorite event since 2018 because of World Athletics DSD governs testosterone levels in female athletes.

In Semenya’s absence, Sekgodiso has already claimed one of her heroine’s two-lap records, becoming South Africa’s youngest national champion in 2019 at just 17 years old.

‘No one can beat me’

A positive test for Covid-19 denied Sekgodiso the prospect of winning a junior world title in Kenya last year.

Running coach Samuel Sepeng, who previously mentored Semenya, convinced the former footballer not to walk away from athletics after this setback.

Sepeng has tasked his latest protege with reaching next month’s World Championship final in Oregon, but Sekgodiso is aiming higher after his exploits in Rabat last weekend.

“I’m very proud of how I did in my first Diamond League, particularly in the wind,” she said.

“I hope to be among the top three at the Worlds. I’m going to train hard and this competition is my main focus this year.

“At the African Championship there is nothing to worry about there, I know I will take [the title]. I’ve looked at the starting rosters and there’s no one there who can beat me.”

The first round of the women’s 800m is scheduled for 06:55 GMT on Saturday, with the final at 12:45 GMT on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Semenya finished sixth in the 5000m in Mauritius on Thursday in his first major championship appearance since the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

She missed the World Championship qualifying standard – finishing more than a minute behind winner Beatrice Chebet and more than 30 seconds slower than her personal best in the distance, which made her marginal for a podium spot.

The African Championships in Athletics began on Wednesday at the newly built Cote d’Or Sports Complex in Port-Louis and culminates on Sunday.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.