Semenya wins gold with new record

South Africa’s Caster Semenya strode to 1500m gold at the Commonwealth Games as Welsh athlete Melissa Courtney claimed a superb bronze medal.

Semenya, a double Olympic champion at 800m, claimed her first 1500m title of any kind and the first part of an attempted double on the Gold Coast.

The 27-year-old powered home in a new Games record of four minutes 0.71 seconds.

Scotland’s Eilish McColgan finished sixth.

With Kenyan world champion Faith Kipyegon and Scotland’s Laura Muir absent, Semenya was favourite to take gold.

Third at the bell, she made her move on the back straight and Courtney was able to battle ahead of Australian pair Linden Hall and Georgia Griffith for bronze on her Commonwealth Games debut.

For 24-year-old Courtney, who only took up running as training for her competitive swimming career, it is a major landmark. Her most significant previous medal came as part of the mixed relay team at the 2017 European Cross-Country Championships.

Normally based in Loughborough, she spent the winter training at altitude in France and Kenya in preparation for the Games.

“I’m in complete shock, I can’t believe I ran that fast,” said Courtney, who clocked 4:03.44.

“I felt strong in the last 100m, the crowd were going crazy, and I’d tried to pretend the crowd were cheering for me as I came past the Aussie. I’ve got so many family and fans out here, it’s my first big final, and it went so well.”

Semenya will now turn her sights to her shorter specialist distance, in which she has hinted at an attempt on Jarmila Kratochvilova’s 1983 world record, the oldest global mark in the book.

The heats are on Thursday with the final on Friday.

The Australian home crowd roared home Madison de Rozario in the T54 1500m, but could not help propel compatriot Kurt Fearnley to victory in the men’s race. Canada’s Alexandre Dupont held strong along the home straight to upgrade his Glasgow 2014 bronze to gold.

  

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