Caster Semenya, Pamela Jelimo into 800m semi-finalsBy BBC | Wednesday, August 8 2012 at 15:52
South Africa's former world champion Caster Semenya has qualified for the 800m semi-finals on her Olympic debut.
The 21-year-old, who was subjected to a gender test following her win at the 2009 Worlds, went through in two minutes 00.71 seconds.
Britain's Lynsey Sharp, American Alysia Johnson Montano and Kenyan defending champion Pamela Jelimo all also comfortably qualified.
Sarah Attar, Saudi Arabia's first woman track athlete, was last in her heat.
She was given a standing ovation at the Olympic Stadium as she went over the finishing line 43 seconds behind heat winner Janeth Jepkosgei Busienei of Kenya (2:01.04).
Sharp, 22, was chosen ahead of four other British athetes who had run faster qualifying times, but she said her controversial selection had not been weighing on her mind.
"I've said all along that I tried to block it out and not take it as added pressure," said Sharp, who ran 2:01.41 to advance. "I'm in great shape."
Semenya became global news when she was asked to take a gender test by athletics' governing body in the aftermath of winning her world title.
Doubts were raised over her gender because of her muscular physique, running style and sudden improvement in times.
Semenya was suspended for 11 months by the International Association of Athletics Federations, but was cleared to return to the track in July 2010.
She won silver at last year's World Championships in Daegu despite a back problem.
"It was a tactical race," said Semenya, who carried South Africa's flag at the opening ceremony in London, after her 800m heat. "I wanted the race to be a fast one.
"I have to run a sub-two (minutes) race to be a contender."
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