Athletics: Semenya breaks her own national 1500m record despite controversy

South Africa's Caster Semenya celebrates after winning the women's 1500m. PHOTO: REUTERS

DOHA (REUTERS) - Caster Semenya put aside the controversy over a planned rule change in athletics regarding hyperandrogenism to win the women's 1,500 metres and break her own South African record time at the Diamond League meeting in Doha on Friday (May 4).

Semenya won in a world leading time of three minutes and 59.92 seconds ahead of Nelly Jepkosgei of Kenya and Habitam Alemu of Ethiopia. She set a national and Commonwealth Games record of 4:00.71 in winning the gold medal last month.

The South African has been in the spotlight after the sport's governing IAAF approved an eligibility rule to limit the advantage of female athletes who, like Semenya, have naturally higher than normal levels of testosterone.

The International Association of Athletics Federations last week confirmed new rules, starting from Nov 1, which effectively give Semenya a choice of taking medication to restrict her testosterone or move to longer distance events.

The double Olympic and triple world 800 metres champion did not let the controversy affect her performance on a dominant evening for Africans in the middle distance events as Kenya swept the podium in the men's 800m.

Emmanuel Korir blasted away from his compatriots on the final strait to win in a time of 1:45.21. Elijah Manangoi finished second with Nicholas Kipkoech in third.

There was a tight finish in the women's 3,000m as Kenya again ruled the track. Caroline Kipkirui finished four tenths of a second ahead of compatriot Agnes Tirop after a tense final lap in the evening heat, with Hyvin Kiyeng coming third.

Commonwealth Games 400m champion Isaac Makwala failed to reproduce his Gold Coast form as he finished third in a race won by Steven Gardiner of the Bahamas in a national record of 43.87 seconds, with Qatar's Abdalleleh Haroun coming home second.

Marie-Josee Ta Lou of the Ivory Coast won the women's 100m in a personal best of 10.85 seconds, beating 2016 Olympic champion Elaine Thompson of Jamaica who was third with Nigeria's Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor finishing second.

American 20-year-old Noah Lyles won the men's 200m in a meeting record of 19.83 seconds with world champion Ramil Guliyev of Turkey finishing third.

American Sandi Morris won the women's pole vault with Britain's Holly Bradshaw coming second.

There were also wins in the men's events for Pedro Pablo Pichardo of Cuba in the triple jump and home athlete Mutaz Essa Barshim in the high jump.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.