Athletics: Semenya fails in second attempt to qualify for Tokyo Olympics

Semenya (above) is barred from competing in the 800m due to World Athletics' testosterone-reducing regulations. PHOTO: REUTERS

JOHANNESBURG (AFP) - Star South African athlete Caster Semenya failed again on Friday (May 28) in Durban to qualify for the 5,000 metres at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

She clocked 15 minutes 32.15 seconds - 22.15 sec outside the qualifying time of 15:10.00 for the July 23-Aug 8 Games in the Japanese capital.

Semenya won a race arranged so that the 30-year-old could attempt to book a place in the South African Olympic team.

It was her second bid to qualify after clocking 15:52.28 last month in Pretoria at an altitude of 1,339 metres.

Posting a quicker time at sea level in Indian Ocean port city Durban was expected as runners breathe easier at sea level.

Semenya has been the Olympic champion twice and world champion three times over 800m, but is barred from competing over that distance by World Athletics' testosterone-reducing regulations.

Females like Semenya who have unusually high levels of testosterone, which gives them added strength, are prohibited from competing in races between 400m and a mile.

The South African refuses to take medication that would reduce here testosterone level and has twice failed in legal battles to overturn the World Athletics decision.

She recently took her case to the European Court of Human Rights, but it is unlikely to be heard before the Olympics begin.

Reacting to the ban, Semenya initially favoured seeking qualification for the 200m, but became concerned about potential injuries and switched to 5,000m.

The International Olympic Committee has set June 29 as the qualification deadline for athletes wanting to compete in Japan.

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