Caster Semenya is Headed to the Women's 800m Finals in Rio

Caster Semenya is Headed to the Women's 800m Finals in Rio

South African middle-distance runner Caster Semenya cruised into a first-place finish in the semi-finals of the women's 800m event in Rio.

Caster Semenya is headed to the finals of the women’s 800-metre event at the 2016 Rio Summer Olympic Games. The South African middle-distance runner cruised into first with a time of 1:58.15 in Thursday’s semi-finals.

She’ll have a day off before going head-to-head on Saturday (2:15am Sunday in SA) with Kate Grace (U.S.), Joanna Jóźwik (Poland), Margaret Wambui (Kenya), Francine Niyonsaba (Burundi), Amela Terzić (Serbia) and Wang Chunyu (China).

“The pace was a little bit quicker [in the semifinal], I wasn’t expecting that much pace,” Semenya said in a post-race interview with one of the organisers. Asked how close she’ll get to Czech runner Jarmilla Kratochvilova’s 33-year-old world record of 1:53:28, the 800m frontrunner made clear where her head's at. “I just ran my PB [1:55.33] a month ago. The focus is just the championship, go back home with the gold medal,” she said.

If Semenya succeeds, she’ll have earned South Africa their second gold medal of the Rio Games. Team SA’s medal count currently stands at nine. On Thursday, Henri Schoeman took home bronze in the men’s triathlon and Sunette Viljoen silver in the women’s javelin throw (making her the first South African woman to medal thus far).

South Africa is now within one medal of their ten-medal target, which, if all goes according to plan, they’ll hit come this weekend's 800m final.