Pretoria – Olympic silver medallist Caster Semenya has set herself the goal of making 2014 the year of restoration.
Semenya is relieved to see what has been a tumultuous 2013 coming to an end. It has been one of the toughest years for the Limpopo-born star athlete. The toughest year since her gender-row of four years ago. This year the former 800m world champion went from one adversity to the next. From being dropped from the Sascoc Opex programme and failing to qualify in time for the IAAF World Athletics Championships, it has been a rollercoaster year for the 22-year-old.
“It was a rough year for me. Immediately after the Olympics I got injured. I faced some difficulties. I was chopped off the Sascoc funding programme. I had to support myself. But I am a big girl what can I say?” said the University of Pretoria sports science student. “I just have to focus on the future. I have to leave the past behind. There is not much I can say about 2013 because I got nothing much out of it.”
For the HPC (High Performance Centre) powered athlete turbulent seasons are an occurrence all too familiar. Controversy just can’t get enough of Semenya. Who can ever forget the mishandled gender saga in 2009 when her name was ripped to shreds. But to her credit, she keeps bouncing back. Misfortune has become a norm, which has desensitised her to a certain extent. It comes with the everyday life of being “Caster Semenya”.
“I don’t have any worries my man. I’m just living my life, I don’t try to worry about a lot of things. My private life is just that: private.”
Semenya has mapped out a blueprint of objectives for the coming year.
“Next year the African Championships and Commonwealth Games are two of my targets and the European diamond league is also one of my main targets. I want to perform much better next year,” she said.
Having won the accolade of “sportswoman of the year” in the 2012 South African Sports Awards, Semenya made an appearance at the 2013 nominees announcement function yesterday at the Gallagher Convention Centre. “I think it’s good to celebrate our sports stars. There are many athletes who did very well in the last year and this is their time to shine,” she said.
Although Semenya can’t wait to see the year over with, she plans to make full use of the remaining months to her benefit. “As an athlete what you do best is run, so that’s what I have to do. Next month I start my training after I complete my exams. I have goals career wise and academically as well,” she said.
The ultimate goal though for Semenya, is the 2016 Rio Olympic Game. And doing one better which for Tuks athlete means winning the gold in the 800m. “I have to keep improving. For me the objective is clear. The Olympics are my biggest target and it’s obvious what I have to do when I get there,” she said.