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Semenya camp insist athlete ready to defend 800m title

South African runner Semenya talks to journalists during a news conference in Stockholm
South African runner Semenya talks to journalists during a news conference in Stockholm

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South African 800 meters 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 rumors.

"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 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 program 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 rumors that there is trouble in her camp.

"These rumors 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 defense 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 August 27-September 4, with the women's 800m final taking place on the final day of competition.

(Reporting by Jason Humphries; Editing by John O'Brien)

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