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11.08.2012 Africa

Savinova holds off Semenya's late charge for gold

By AFP
Russia's Mariya Savinova celebrates after winning the women's 800m final.  By Eric Feferberg (AFP)
LISTEN AUG 11, 2012
Russia's Mariya Savinova celebrates after winning the women's 800m final. By Eric Feferberg (AFP)

LONDON (AFP) - Russian world champion Mariya Savinova held off a fast-finishing Caster Semenya of South Africa here on Saturday to win the 800 metres Olympic title.

Savinova, who was winning a fifth successive major title, made the decisive break coming round the bend and while the young South African came from fifth to second she had given herself too much to do.

Savinova timed 1min 56.19sec to Semenya's 1:57.23 while another Russian Ekaterina Poistogova took bronze.

Kenya's defending champion Pamela Jelimo had taken the pace up 300 metres out but was overwhelmed by Savinova's burst and the 22-year-old was passed by Semenya and edged out on the line by Poistogova.

For Semenya it was a second successive silver medal at a major championships - she was second in last year's world championship - after being cleared to return after a traumatic time following her world championship win in 2009.

Semenya had to undergo drug tests followed by gender tests following that magnificent victory in Berlin.

She was barred from the track for almost a year before being cleared to run again and her comeback was hampered by a lower back injury and a growing belief that coach Michael Seme had taken her as far as he could.

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