Caster Semenya falls short in latest attempt at women's 5,000m Olympic qualifying time

·2-min read
Photo credit: Ian MacNicol - Getty Images
Photo credit: Ian MacNicol - Getty Images

Double Olympic 800m champion Caster Semenya has once again fallen short of the Olympic qualifying time for the women's 5,000m.

The South African athlete ran 15:57.12 at the Sparkassen Gala in Regensburg, Germany on Sunday, well short of the 15:10.00 needed to qualify for the 5,000m event in Tokyo. Semenya has made two other attempts at the qualifying time in recent months, running 15:32.15 and 15:52.28 in April and May respectively.

Semenya’s agent, Jukka Härkönen told Yahoo Sports that she plans to make a final attempt at the time in Liege, Belgium, on June 30, although that event falls one day after the qualifying cut off date of June 29. Härkönen said he was confident Semenya would manage to qualify. ‘Liege will be her first serious race in 5000m' he said. “After that, we will know more.’

Although Semenya has achieved most success as an 800m athlete, she is attempting to qualify for the 5,000m due to new eligibility rules. Since a ruling from World Athletics came into force in 2018, athletes with differences of sexual development (DSD) who want to compete in distances from 400m to one mile must either take medication to reduce their testosterone levels or switch to another distance.

World Athletics says the higher levels of testosterone present in DSD athletes give them a ‘clear performance advantage’ in long sprint and middle distance competitions. Although Semenya has not revealed many details about her gender, she has been reported as having a condition called hyperandrogenism, a genetic condition that makes her body produce higher than usual levels of testosterone. When the new rules came into force, Semenya condemned them as unfair: 'I just want to run naturally, the way I was born. I am Mokgadi Caster Semenya. I am a woman and I am fast.'

Semenya has taken her case against the ruling to both the Court of Arbitration for Sport and the Swiss Federal Supreme Court, both of which have denied her appeal. In 2021 she went one step further and appealed to the European Court of Human Rights, attempting to qualify for the 5,000m distance in the meantime.

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