Caster Semenya of South Africa crosses the finish line ahead of Ekaterina Kostetskaya of Russia to win her women's 800 metres semi final (Getty Images) © Copyright
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Semenya announces 800m legend Mutola as new coach

2009 World 800m champion Caster Semenya has announced that she’ll now be training under the tutelage of the event’s former World and Olympic champion Maria Mutola.

Semenya, who had previously trained with Michael Seme, decided to make the coaching switch after meeting the three-time World champion just prior to her departure for this year’s IAAF World cChampionships in Daegu where she captured the silver medal.

“I want to thank Michael for his great job during the last three years with me,” Semenya said. “We have had a lot of success, but during this year and especially the last few months I have been thinking very often about my own career.”

“I was preparing alone the last four weeks for the World Championships in Daegu and I met Maria Mutola before my flight to Korea. She gave me great ideas for the Championships. Maria has been my idol since I started to run. After Daegu I asked Maria if she is interested in coaching me. Her answer was positive and I am very happy now. Maria has had long and super successful career. She will be a great teacher for me.”

“This is a huge challenge for me to start with Caster,” said Mutola, whose list of accomplishments over the distance is nearly unparalleled. The Mozambican, known throughout her career as the ‘Maputo Express’, won Olympic gold in 2000, collected three World titles outdoors and a staggering seven indoors over an international career that spanned more than a decade-and-a-half.

“She is a great young athlete and already she has done very well,” Mutola, who is based in Johannesburg, said.

“We still have a long road to go if we want to be the number one in the London Olympics next summer. Caster just needs to take the last steps to be a professional athlete. I want to use all my experience to help her to understand what it means to be on the top. It is much easier to get the top than to stay there.”

The decision to make the coaching switch was a personal one, said her manager Jukka Harkonen.

“Caster made this decision totally by herself,” Harkonen said. “I know she had very difficult months prior to Daegu and she was under a lot of stress.

“She mentioned to me that she met Maria before the World Championships and she was getting good advice or the final days’ preparation.”

“Personally I have known Maria since 1991 and for me she is the best 800 metre female athlete ever in the world. I know Maria takes her coaching job with the same seriousness as her athletics career.”