© AFPSemenya champion is currently banned from competing in her favoured 800m event at major meets unless she reduce natural testosterone levels - AFP
Caster Semenya has run her first public race in eight months, breaking the national 300m record at a low-level meeting at a South African university before proclaiming: "I'm here to stay."
The Olympic 800m champion is currently banned from competing in her favoured event at major meets, and any distance from 400m to one mile, unless she follows World Athletics rules that require her to medically reduce her natural testosterone levels to compete in women's competitions.
The regulations were designed for female athletes with differences of sex development like Semenya and have been severely criticised.
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The race at the University of Johannesburg on Friday night, which also featured high school students, was Semenya's first appearance since June last year when she won an 800m race at the Prefontaine Classic in America.
"Track and field, you will still see my face," Semenya said after winning Friday's 300m race in 36.78 seconds. "That is all I can say for now."
It's not the first time Semenya has guaranteed a comeback. The Olympics are just five months away and it's doubtful if Semenya will be able to defend her title in the 800m. But maybe she has another plan.
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Semenya, who turned 29 last month, has twice appealed against the regulations. She lost her first appeal at sport's highest court. Her second legal challenge at the Swiss supreme court is still being considered. Her chances of winning that second appeal are seen as slim.
Semenya has repeatedly refused to adhere to the testosterone regulations and her decision to open the Olympic year with a 300m race might be significant.
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The rules do not apply to races below 400m and Semenya could compete in the 200m at the Olympics without having to reduce her hormone level.
Semenya didn't indicate if that was her intention when she stated that her track career was not over. The South African has rarely run the 200m and her personal best is 24.26 seconds. Semenya would have to improve that by nearly two seconds to meet the qualifying standard of 22.80 seconds for the Tokyo Olympics.
She's previously tried distances longer than the mile with limited success.
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In the midst of her ongoing battle with track authorities over the regulations, Semenya has sometimes given confusing messages regarding her future.
Last year, she joined a football team in Johannesburg and announced she would play for them during the 2020 season. That seemed to suggest she was ready to give up track and field but she denied that, saying she could be a footballer and a runner.
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