Pretoria – Despite the fact that she is one of the fastest mid-range distance runners in the world, Caster Semenya just can’t seem to run away fast enough from adversity.
It (adversity) has shadowed the 22-year-old for most of her young career and it has reared its ugly head once again.
From the 2009 controversy about her gender, to the way she ran in the 800m final at the Olympics last year, to her injury problems and last week having Sascoc (South African Sports Confederation Olympic Committee) drop her like a hot potato.
The most recent of those misfortunes was the startling omission of her name on Sascoc’s Operation Excellence Programme (Opex), which provides funding to top athletes in the country.
Sascoc justified the snub by proclaiming that because she was inactive and not training, it would be senseless to continue providing the athlete with funds.
According to her coach Maria Mutola, she’s now facing the possibility of having to suspend her season indefinitely.
“We might have to call off the season. I think that her well-being comes first. So in the next coming weeks we will sit down and make a decision. We have to consider, if she can run good times. It would be unfair to expect her to run with some of the best athletes in the country while she’s not 100 per cent,” the coach said. “As far as her progress is concerned, we are a little bit behind, and we just have to see how things go.”
Contrary to the Sascoc statement, in actual fact Semenya has been active and has been training at the University of Pretoria’s High Performance Centre for months now.
Mutola said Semenya was disappointed with the manner in which Sascoc handled the issue and she feels she deserves better treatment from them.
“She is disappointed about the way in which they made the announcement and it all came out. We had to hear it through the media. They didn’t call to speak with her and hear her side,” said the 2000 Sydney Olympics gold medallist.
The Mozambican-born Mutola dismissed the Sascoc claim and doesn’t understand why they would claim that her athlete wasn’t training when she’s been training all along. “She trains three times a week with me. So I don’t understand what they mean by that. I think I am content with her progress especially considering her injury problems,” said the former 800m world champion.
Although she has been undergoing rehabilitation for an injury on her left knee, the Limpopo-born athlete hasn’t stopped running as she is intent on getting back to full fitness again.
Mutola has full confidence that she will bounce back – as she usually does.
“I believe in her. When a person has a dream, there is not much that can get in the way of that dream. She always says that she should have done better last year in London,” she said but added that her health comes first. “The most important thing is to see if she can recover from the injury.
“When it comes to injuries, the best thing to do is to rest sometimes. Because you don’t want to risk doing further damage to the injury.”
Mutola believes that her strong character and mental strength will pull her through the tough times, but she was understandably very disappointed about the Opex snub. – The Star