LONDON — Closing in on an Olympic medal three years after being forced to undergo gender tests, Caster Semenya of South Africa won her 800-meter semifinal heat in 1 minute, 57.67 seconds on Thursday night.
The final is Saturday and also will include defending champion Pamela Jelimo of Kenya, who won her semifinal.
Semenya is making her Olympic debut. She was sidelined for nearly a year while track and field’s governing body decided whether to allow her to compete after she won the 2009 world title at age 18. She was tested and eventually cleared to return to action in 2010, then was the runner-up at last year’s world championships.
Semenya carried South Africa’s flag at the opening ceremony in London and is a leading medal contender in the 800.