Caster Semenya has not lost any respect for disgraced Russian athlete Mariya Savinova.
Savinova beat Semenya to the 800m Olympic gold medal at the 2012 London Olympic games, but that achievement was rescinded after she was found to have taken illegal performance enhancing substances.
Savinova had all her records dating back to the 2011 World Championships rescinded.
After her 3 000m win at the third leg of the Athletics South Africa Speed Series in Potchefstroom‚ Semenya said she preferred to leave the regained gold medal in the past.
“I have respect for each and every individual athlete. It doesn’t matter which background they’re from and what they’ve done wrong‚” Semenya said.
“At the end of the day‚ it’s all about the sportsmanship.
“She’s a great athlete but when we talk about rules‚ it works in my favour.
“It’s in the past now‚ I’m still Caster and I haven’t changed. I still want to win more medals.
“When I crossed the line‚ I was second. It doesn’t matter if an athlete was suspended or disqualified.
“In terms of medal records‚ it looks great because my record now reads gold‚ gold‚ gold.
“People call me a gold digger and that’s fantastic.”
With her time of 9:36.29‚ Semenya shaved more than 10 seconds from her personal best‚ even though it was only the second time she had tackled the seven-lap race.
While the distance often forms part of her off-road training‚ adding five to her normal two was a massive step.
She paced herself well in the race and still had enough in the tank to outpace experienced 3 000m runners.
Semenya was just glad to have shaken off the cobwebs but world records are not her priority at the moment.
“You can’t talk about world records when you’re behind on your schedule,” she said.
“What I can do is to maintain last year’s performance and make sure I stick to the 1:55 pace.
“Who knows if you can go faster than that?
“The main focuses now are the World Champs and running better times.
“I’d be lying if I said the world record is not on my mind because I always check the splits.
“If you work hard you will be rewarded but we still have to get better and shed off injuries.
“We also need to be careful not to overtrain.”