Coach: Semenya targeting European return

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Caster Semenya will make her comeback at a European meet but is not fit enough to compete at the world junior championships in Canada, the 800-meter world champion’s coach said Wednesday.

by GERALD IMRAY JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Caster Semenya will make her comeback at a European meet but is not fit enough to compete at the world junior championships in Canada, the 800-meter world champion’s coach said Wednesday. Michael Seme said the 19-year-old South African is looking to run in "one or two" meets in Europe before making her return to major competition at the African championships in Kenya, which begin July 28. "We can’t go straight to a big meeting," Seme said, "so we are preparing for one or two races before that." "It will be European competition," he said. Semenya’s agent will decide at which event Semenya will make her long-awaited return, Seme said. Semenya was cleared to return Tuesday by the International Association of Athletics Federations, ending an 11-month stalemate over her status following gender verification tests. Semenya, who can continue running as a woman, has not raced competitively since winning the 800-meter world title in Berlin in August 2009. "It is not easy," Seme said, "but just to be there is important and get the body used to it again." "Caster is happy that she will be back in action but we must make sure she is training properly," Seme said. Seme said the world junior championships in the Canadian city of Moncton, beginning July 19, were too early for Semenya. "She is not fit enough for the junior championships," Seme said. "She has not failed, but she was not prepared for the junior championships." Semenya ran two 600-meter trials at her training base in Pretoria on Wednesday but her times were "not good enough for an 800-meter runner," according to her coach. Seme said Semenya ran times of 1 minute, 35 seconds and 1:38 in the trials. He said he expected her to be running around 1:30 over 600 meters. Athletics South Africa said it had requested that Semenya undergo a fitness test to see if she was ready to compete in Canada. Semenya’s dramatic improvement in times and muscular build led the IAAF to order gender verification tests last year. The IAAF said Tuesday that it accepted the conclusion of a panel of medical experts that Semenya could return with immediate effect. The IAAF said the medical details of her case would remain confidential, leaving it unclear if she has had any medical procedure or treatment during her time away. Her lawyers said that "due to the nature of the matter the parties resolved to keep the negotiations confidential." British runner Jenny Meadows, who finished third behind Semenya in the 800 final in Berlin, said she will be happy to race against the South African again. "I think the announcement that she would be allowed to run was always going to happen," Meadows said. "I think we’ll never know what the situation was in Berlin. That’s gone." "We’ll never know what’s happened in these 11 months," Meadows said. "The medical team say that the place she’s at now she’s a female. If they say she’s a female I’m happy to compete against her." Last year, news of the gender tests and Australian media reports claiming Semenya had both male and female sex organs caused outrage in her home country — and led to accusations of racism. Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. Photo Caption: In this July 6 photo, Caster Semenya visits a restaurant in Sandon Johannesburg, South Africa . Semenya was cleared to return to competitive athletics by the IAAF ending an 11-month layoff while she underwent gender verification tests after becoming the 800-meter world champion. (AP Photo/Boxer Ngwenya)

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