GOLD COAST, Australia (AP) Long after smashing the Commonwealth Games 1,500-meter record to set herself up for a middle-distance double, Caster Semenya passed Isaac Makwala under the stadium and gave the Botswana sprinter a congratulatory hug.
They both had convincing wins on a drizzly night at Carrara Stadium, with Makwala dominating the men’s 400.
Semenya won in 4 minutes, 0.71 seconds to wipe more than four seconds off the old games mark and post a South African record in the process. The two-time Olympic 800-meter champion describes the longer race as a learning experience, and said it makes her more confident.
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At the last world championships, she won the 800 and took bronze in the 1,500.
”That’s the beginning – started the quest last year,” Semenya said. ”Winning this gold medal means a lot. Shows we are maturing, we are growing … still learning how to run middle-distance.
”But with 10 years of experience now for me I’m ready for anything.”
There was a 12-minute delay at the start with the athletes at the line, trying to stay warm, because of a technical fault.
Unlike the semifinals, Semenya didn’t go straight to the front. Instead, she settled in fifth spot through the first half of the race and moved up into third as she entered the last lap.
She started her surge with 250 to go and rounded the leaders with 200 remaining, extending her lead in the home stretch and then flexing her biceps in a bodybuilding pose after crossing the line. Beatrice Chepkoech took silver for Kenya in 4:03.09 and Melissa Courtney collected bronze for Wales.
After being selected as South Africa’s flag bearer for the opening ceremony, Semenya said she’d repay the honor with two golds.
”You need to lead by example … I’m more like a captain so I need to show the guys that, yes, I’m a woman of my words,” she said. ”If I say I’ll do something, I’ll do it.”
Makwala arrived on the Gold Coast with one mission: the 400-meter gold. He eased to finish 44.35 seconds and did some push-ups beyond the line. He said the semifinal was worth five, but the gold was deserving of 10.
”Just my trademark – I want to show that Makwala is still there,” he said. ”I still have the power to go.”
Makwala grabbed a Botswana flag and ran around the track to celebrate with teammate Baboloki Thebe, who took silver in 45.09. Javon Francis of Jamaica got bronze in 45.11, edging out India’s Muhammed Anas Yahiya who placed fourth in a national record of 45.31.
It was a special win for Makwala, who reached the 200 final at last year’s world championships days after being refused entry to the stadium for the 400 final because of quarantine restrictions amid a viral outbreak.
He clenched the gold medal between his teeth as he stood on the podium and his anthem played, making sure to celebrate.
Makwala decided not to compete in the 200 here, and will focus now on the Diamond League and preparing himself for a potential run at a 200-400 double at next year’s world championships.
The aptly named Lindon Victor won the decathlon for Grenada after defending champion Damian Warner failed to clear a height in the pole vault.
Warner, the Olympic bronze and former world silver medalist, missed all three attempts at 4.50 meters and slumped from first place to sixth, well short of his personal best of 4.90. After seven events, he was leading with 6,297 points. The 28-year-old Canadian dropped from first to sixth and didn’t compete in the javelin or the 1,500 meters on a wet night at the Carrara Stadium. His officials result: DNF.
Victor won the gold 8,303 points and Warner’s Canadian teammate Pierce Lepage took silver at 8,171. Australia’s Cedric Dubler collected bronze in 7,983.
”It’s not the way I wanted to win, with Damian having three fouls, but I prayed for the gold medal,” Victor said. ”It’s 10 events, not nine. It’s the nature of the decathlon.”
Jamaica went 1-2 in the 110-meter hurdles and in the women’s triple jump.
In the first of the night finals, Ronald Levy won the hurdles in 13.19, edging fellow Jamaican Hansle Parchment by 0.03 in a damp track and Australia’s Nicholas Hough took bronze in a career-best 13.38.
The triple jump was also contested between light rain showers, and Kimberly Williams took gold with a winning jump of 14.64 meters, 12 centimeters clear of Shanieka Ricketts and Thea Lafond of Dominica won bronze at 13.92.
New Zealander Julia Ratcliffe won the women’s hammer throw with a best mark of 69.94 meters, with Australians Alexandra Hulley and Lara Nielsen finishing second and third.