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Caster Semenya speaks of tough ride back from 11-month IAAF suspension

June 8, 2011 - London

South African middle-distance runner Caster Semenya has talked about the difficulties she faced in returning to action following an 11-month suspension imposed by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) in 2009.

Semenya had won gold in the women's 800 metres at the 2009 World Championships with a time of 1:55.45 in the final.

However, questions were raised about whether Semenya had a physical condition that might give her an unfair advantage over other female racers.

She was revealed to be a hermaphrodite and was withdrawn from international competition until July 6, 2010, when the IAAF cleared her to return to competition.

"It wasn't easy for me. My manager, my training partners were on my side - they always wanted me to come to train, but I didn't want to come to train," The Guardian quoted Semenya, as saying.

"I told them, Why should I come to train for something that I don't know? I cannot come to train when I don't know if I'm going to run'."

"But they always told me to come, my coach was always phoning me each and every morning and afternoon. I told him, 'Look, man, call me after I'm gonna be back. If I'm coming back that's when you can call me, but if not don't call me, I'll just come sometimes'," she added.

The 20-year-old has now targeted a successful Diamond League campaign in the run-up to defend her world title in Daegu, South Korea, in August.

The race on Thursday will be Semenya's third of the season: she won an IAAF Challenge event in Dakar and then finished second at the Diamond League race in Eugene, Oregon, on Saturday

"Defending a world title is not easy. The 800m is a little bit tricky, it can be fast, it can be slow it depends who is fit here [tapping her head] mentally," Semenya said.

"For my side I think I've got a chance to defend the title but somebody else will want to win. But I'll be happy if I go back to the podium, it doesn't matter if it's silver or bronze, as long as I'm back there," she added.


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