Published: Aug 18, 8:00a ET
Updated: Aug 18, 8:00a ET

Semenya camp insist athlete ready to defend 800m World title

August 19, 2009: South African runs away from field amid gender allegations.

JOHANNESBURG, Aug 18 (Reuters) -- South African 800m world champion Caster Semenya has shrugged off talk of injury, weight issues and a rift in her camp to declare herself ready to defend her title in Daegu, South Korea early next month.

Local media reports suggested Semenya and her coach Michael Seme had fallen out and also claimed that the 20-year-old was overweight, but the runner's management team moved swiftly to dispel the rumours.

"The recent media reports that Caster Semenya is not ready to defend her world 800m title are untrue," Semenya's management team said in a statement on Thursday.

"Semenya remains disciplined, focused and excited about representing South Africa at the World Championship in South Korea. In true championship style, she has embarked upon a stringent training programme in preparation for the world event.

"Currently she is doing light, final training at the home base in Pretoria, South Africa. We wish to dismiss any rumours that there is trouble in her camp.

"These rumours are seen as attempts to discourage and distract her from her glorious quest for gold.

"We furthermore wish to assure South Africans and Caster's supporters that all is well with our champ and that she is going to put up a strong fight in defence of her title," the statement added.

Semenya pulled out of this month's World Student Games in Shenzen, China with a back injury but has also struggled for form this season, running below two minutes only twice, well short of the 1:55.45 she set to win the title in Berlin in 2009.

The World Championships run from Aug. 27-Sept. 4, with the women's 800m final taking place on the final day of competition.

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