Muller Grand Prix Birmingham prepares to welcome Caster Semenya
Serving as her first ever race in Birmingham, South African star Semenya will compete over 1500m at the Alexander Stadium, with her presence sure to excite the legion of fans that the 27-year-old has built in the UK following her successes at both London 2012’s Olympic Games and last summer’s IAAF World Championships in the same city.
Having established her status as the 800m athlete to beat following three successive world titles and back to back Olympic golds over the distance, Semenya’s outing in Birmingham over 1500m - a distance which she has claimed world bronze and Commonwealth gold in the past 12 months - will see her have one eye on breaking her own South African record time of 3:59.92 set earlier this year in Doha.
Speaking ahead of competing in Birmingham for the first ever time, Caster Semenya said:
“It has been such an amazing 12 months for me and I cannot wait to continue it by competing back in the UK again and in Birmingham for the first time ever.
“It is rare that I get to race somewhere for the first time, so that in particular is really exciting and will motivate me to perform very well in what I know will be a great, great race.”
Giving her thoughts on the relationship she holds with the British crowd, Semenya added:
“I have been fortunate enough to have raced at the two biggest events in Britain in recent years – the 2012 Olympic Games and the world championships last year – and they were both unforgettable.
“The supporters themselves are absolutely amazing and have always been so welcoming – when it comes to your turn to be introduced before the start of a race, you know that there is a big, big cheer waiting. Hopefully I can repay them in Birmingham by being part of a great race and running very well, though I know the competition will be very tough as it always is.”
British Athletics’ Major Events Director, Cherry Alexander said:
“We’re delighted to have Caster racing in Birmingham later this month and are very much looking forward to welcoming her to Birmingham for the very first time. One of the most pleasing things we hear from overseas athletes come from them speaking about the warmth of the UK crowds and how strong a reception they receive, and I know that Caster will be sure of just that in Birmingham.”
“Having Caster present in the race alongside fellow world-class names such as Sifan [Hassan] and Laura [Weightman] means we are in for a fantastic spectacle. The fields are really coming together across the board and will be some of the strongest we have ever assembled, so the meeting will give the athletics-loving crowd another preview of the amazing action we are sure to see come 2022’s Commonwealth Games in the city.”
Among those joining Semenya in racing over the 1500m is five-time world championship medallist Sifan Hassan (NED). Hassan impressively won the inaugural Millicent Fawcett mile in London less than two weeks ago in a time of 4:14.71, the fourth quickest women’s mile time in history, and is sure to relish returning to Birmingham having set Dutch records on her previous two outings in the city.
Also set to be present is Gudaf Tsegay (ETH), an athlete who carries extraordinary range with sub-2:00, sub-4:00 and sub-15:00 minute personal best times for 800m, 1500m and 5000m respectively, while world championship finalists Winny Chebet (KEN) and Laura Weightman (GBR) are joined by 2017 European indoor finalist Sarah McDonald (GBR).
Caster Semenya will join global stars Greg Rutherford, Luvo Manyonga and Juan Miguel Echevarria at the Müller Grand Prix Birmingham on Saturday 18 August. Tickets are available at britishathletics.org.uk.