Gritty Semenya to brave back pain

Organisers are hoping Semenya will add glamour to the track event already decimated by the pull-outs of Usain Bolt, Asafa Powell, Phillips Idowu, David Rudisha and John Steffensen.

Organisers will be buoyed by the 800M world champion’s recovery from a back injury that threatened to derail her campaign. “She is still coming to India,” Semenya’s coach, Michael Seme, told a newspaper. “She has some back pain, but we are still preparing for the Commonwealth Games. The time for preparation has been very short, but she will still be in Delhi.”

The Games could ill afford the loss of Semenya. With a long list of high-profile absentees and more security and health-related withdrawals potentially on the horizon, she will be among the Games’ biggest drawcards. The intrigue surrounding her comeback from a gender investigation dominated the European track season, and despite inconsistent results that led to her ranking slipping to fifth, her appearance in New Delhi has been eagerly anticipated -- not least by television rights-holders lamenting the Games’ dwindling star power. Seme previously sparked fears that Semenya might not appear in New Delhi when he told reporters on Monday “her back has been troubling her in training”.

“She will see a doctor today or tomorrow, and based on what he tells us we will decide whether or not she will compete,” he added.

But Seme was much more upbeat regarding her prospects of running in Delhi later on Monday. “She is still training for the Commonwealth Games,” he said.

South African men’s world champion 800M runner Mbulaeni Mulaudzi on Sunday became the latest high-profile pull out. Mulaudzi, who won men’s 800M gold in the Berlin World Championships last year and a silver winner in the 2004 Athens Olympics, pulled out due to a back injury.

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