“I was ready to fight, attack the top three and see what happens,” Wilson said.
Before the race her coach had told her to get out fast, but not to get drawn into a battle for the lead.
That’s exactly what Wilson, a world junior champion in 2012, did, shooting to the front on the first turn but conceding the lead when Niyonsaba powered by approaching the 200-meter mark.
Wilson drafted behind Niyonsaba as she passed 400 meters in a swift 57.98, then powered up to her shoulder with 200 meters remaining. All the while, though, she was waiting for the inevitable attack from Semenya, who was the overwhelming favorite for gold.
“I was ready for the final charge,” Wilson said. “I knew she was coming so it was just a matter of when. Coming off the last turn I saw that the three of us had pulled away so I was just like, hey, go for it.”
Semenya came charging past both Wilson and Niyonsaba in the home stretch, though Wilson fought all the way to the line to ensure a bronze medal, her first at senior level in a global outdoor championship.
“I’m super excited with my performance,” Wilson said. “I couldn’t be happier. I wish I could have gotten gold but that’s what I had today.”
The race was not without controversy, however. Semenya is believed to have DSD, a disorder of sex development, sometimes called intersex. As a result, her body might produce atypically high (for woman) levels of natural testosterone, which might, in turn, enhance her running performance.
The sport’s governing body, the International Association of Athletics Federations, had initially reacted to the issue by introducing a rule that no woman be allowed to compete as a woman if she has a testosterone level of 10nmols/liter or more, unless she has a documented testosterone-insensitivity (androgen resistance). But this practice was suspended in 2015 by the Court of…