August 4, 2010 / 11:42 AM / 9 years ago

Semenya's coach urges patience as return gathers pace

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Caster Semenya’s coach has cautioned that not too much should be expected right away from the South African 800 metres world champion as her return to competitive athletics after her enforced break gathers pace.

South Africa's Caster Semenya runs her first race since the Berlin World Championships last year, in Lappeenranta, Eastern Finland, July 15, 2010. REUTERS/Roni Rekomaa/Lehtikuva

“Depending on how her training goes she will be competitive but it will not be easy,” Michael Seme told Reuters. “For any athlete to come back to competition after such a long break is not easy. It is almost like starting all over again.”

Semenya has won two low-key events in Finland since being cleared to resume her track career after almost a year away from competition following a series of controversial gender tests.

The 19-year-old has confirmed her attendance at two European meets, the ISTAF on August 22 in Berlin — where she won the world title last year — and the Notturna di Milano on September 9.

Semenya’s goal this season is a strong performance at the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi in October and Seme said it was vital that his charge is prepared for the challenge.

“We probably need about eight races to get Caster ready for the Commonwealth Games,” Seme said.

“We don’t really care about the standard of opposition and she may not run fast times soon but she needs to have time on the track,” he added.

Semenya’s appearance at the ISTAF meeting will see her return to the venue where she clinched gold in the Berlin world championships in a time of one minute 55.45 seconds.

“I have now run at two meets in Finland and won them both but I cannot be completely satisfied with my times,” Semenya said in a statement on ISTAF’s website (www.istaf.de).

“Still, after eleven really hard months in which I’ve been through a lot I’m looking forward to being on the track once again,” she added.

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