South African star Caster Semenya moved a step closer to adding the Olympic title to her controversial 2009 world title as she eased into the 800m semi-finals.
The 21-year-old, who is coached by 2000 Sydney Olympics 800m champion Maria Mutola, finished second in her heat behind American Alysia Montano.
Semenya had to undergo drug tests followed by gender tests following that magnificent victory in Berlin in 2009.
The situation spiralled out of control with Semenya complaining of “unwarranted and invasive scrutiny of the most intimate and private details of my being”.
She was barred from the track for almost a year before being cleared to run again and her comeback was hampered by a lower back injury and a growing belief that coach Michael Seme had taken her as far as he could.
“It was a tactical race. I wanted the race to be a fast one,” she said of her heat, adding that her chances of winning a medal would come down to the speed of the race.
“I have to run a sub-2min race to be a contender.”
The UAE’s participation in the London 2012 Olympic Games ended today after triple-jumper Mohamed Abbas Darwish failed to progress from his qualifying group.
Darwish produced a best jump of 16.06m which placed him 13th in Group B and therefore saw him join Britain’s gold medal hopeful Phillips Idowu in missing out on a place in the final.
For the record, Darwish’s personal best of 16.80m would have comfortably earned him qualification into the final, but the 26-year-old Emirati will take a lot from his Olympic experience having only taken up the triple-jump three years ago.
The Dubai-based athlete’s coach, the hugely-experienced Bulgarian Svetoslav Topuzov, is convinced Darwish possesses a great deal of potential and while the immediate focus was on London 2012, the Rio Games in 2016 has always been viewed as the more realistic aim for success.
Prior to Darwish’s participation in London, Topuzov said: “I think Mohamed is thinking about a lot of different things because he only began three years ago. He must start thinking on his own that ‘I want to be amongst the best in the world.’
“I think for the next Olympic Games he will have the right mentality.”
American Christian Taylor produced the longest jump of 17.21m and will head into tomorrow’s final confident of delivering another gold medal for the USA.
Darwish’s performance comes 24 hours after the UAE’s Betlhem Desalegn failed to progress from her 1500m heat.
Sir Chris Hoy crowned his Olympic career with a record sixth gold medal on Tuesday to become the most decorated British Olympian in history after powering to victory in the keirin.
Germany’s Maximilian Levy finished second to take the silver with New Zealand’s Simon Van Velthooven and Dutchman Teun Mulder sharing the bronze after a long wait for a photo finish decision.
Hoy won three Olympic gold medals in the sprint, keirin and team sprint four years ago to add to his kilometre time trial crown from Athens in 2004.
And despite being unable to defend his sprint title after being ousted by Jason Kenny for Britain’s sole spot in the event, Hoy struck gold twice in his two London events of the team sprint and keirin.
The 36-year-old Scot’s sixth gold means that on the count of gold medals alone, he overtakes Sir Steve Redgrave’s tally of five gold medals, all of which were won in consecutive Games.
“I’m in shock, you try and compose yourself but it’s surreal. I wanted to win gold in front of my home crowd. I saw everyone stepping up to the plate and thankfully it worked out for me too,” said Hoy.
Asked if he would compete at the Rio Games, Hoy said his preference would be to end his career at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. “Not in an Olympic Games. I’m 99.9 percent sure that I won’t be in Rio. Glasgow 2014, if I can keep going that would be the dream ending for me. This is the perfect end to my Olympic career.
“At Sydney (2000), I was just over the moon with a silver medal. If I’d have stopped then I would have been a happy boy, but to go on to Athens, Bejing and here, I can’t put it into words,” added Hoy, who was in tears at the medal ceremony.
Having coasted through the first and second rounds of the keirin earlier in the day, Hoy proved imperious once he got to the final. After the motor-paced derny left the track with two and a half of the eight laps to go, Hoy was quick to counter a move on the outside by Malaysia’s Azizulhasni Awang.
When Levy then pulled to the front, Hoy kept Levy in his sights before rounding the final bend with a lead over the five other finalists that they failed to haul back in a frantic drive for the line.
While Levy finished second to add silver to his bronze medal from the team sprint, it took several minutes for the judges to make a decision on the bronze. Unable to, they decided Mulder and Van Velthooven should share the bronze.
Hoy was later joined on the track by Redgrave, who gave the Scot a hug. “That’s me done for the Olympics,” Hoy said to Redgrave before adding the rower was an inspiration to him: “To me he will always be the greatest no matter how many medals you win. To be here and have Steve congratulate me is incredible.”
When asked about his tears on the podium, Hoy told the BBC: “I could not hold it in. I think it’s when you realise how many things have not gone so well and you have doubted yourself and you take nothing for granted. In sport nothing is assured.
“I was going to celebrate any medal. “It’s just been the most unbelievable experience of my life.”