May 22, 2016

RABAT, Morocco (AP) Caster Semenya set another world-leading time and again showed she will be one of the runners to watch at the Rio Olympics, leaving behind a strong field to easily win the 800 meters at the Diamond League meeting in Morocco on Sunday.

Semenya's performance was even more impressive than her victory at the Doha meet two weeks ago. She was nearly two seconds faster this time, blowing past world indoor champion Francine Niyonsaba to win in 1 minute, 56.64 seconds, over a second ahead of Niyonsaba.

It was Semenya's quickest time in five years. Former world outdoor champion Eunice Sum was way back in fourth in 1:59.32 at the first Diamond League series in Africa.

''It's a big boost to morale to beat a strong field like this one,'' Semenya said. ''I just have to keep training hard and there will be more to come.''

Semenya was the world champion in 2009, the worlds silver medalist in 2011, and the Olympic silver medalist in London. Her career has often been clouded by the gender test controversy that surrounded the world title she claimed as an 18-year-old in Berlin seven years ago.

The South African is likely to face controversy again in Rio, with her best times in years coming this season and after the Court of Arbitration for Sport decided that an IAAF rule that regulated women's testosterone levels for competition should be dropped. Semenya was prevented from running by the IAAF for nearly a year following her breakthrough win in 2009 because of what was thought to be high testosterone levels.

This season, she won a 400, 800 and 1,500 meters triple at the South African championships, all on the same day. She easily beat the field at the Doha Diamond League.

In the men's 400 in Rabat, LaShawn Merritt took victory in 44.66 seconds. Merritt reeled in a tiring Isaac Makwala in the home straight after the Botswana runner had burst out the blocks and gone all out through the first 300 meters.

Former world champion David Oliver edged out Orlando Ortega in a close finish in the 110 hurdles.

Almaz Ayana was way out in front to win the women's 5,000 but was just short in her attempt on Tirunesh Dibaba's world record. Unchallenged out in front and running against the clock in the final track race of the meet, Ayana won in 14:16.31, five seconds off Dibaba's mark.

On her return to the Diamond League, double Olympic champion Valerie Adams earlier won the shot put with a season's-best 19.68 meters. Bohdan Bondarenko won the high jump with 2.31 meters, and Conseslus Kipruto triumphed ahead of Jairus Birech in the clash of the two Kenyans in the 3,000 meters steeplechase.

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