Semenya is focussed on the bigger picture
The 800m gold medalist, and former world champion, was speaking at a function in Johannesburg yesterday, where she, alongside fellow South African Olympiads Josia Thugwane and Lawrence Brittian, was unveiled as Bridgestone’s “Chase Your Dreams No Matter What” Campaign ambassador.
Semenya is currently appealing a ruling by the Swiss Federal Supreme Court barring her from competing in 1 500m distances and shorter, which includes her preferred 800m event, due to new regulations imposed by the IAAF regarding testosterone levels in women, last year.
The ruling has disqualified her from defending her Olympic title in Tokyo, or participating in any IAAF sanctioned events in those categories.
“I think if you are the defending champion, of course you expect to defend your title,” said Semenya yesterday.
“But with my situation,” she continued, referring to her current legal battle against the world athletics body, “and I really don’t want to talk about this thing because there is a lot happening at the moment, the main goal, of course, is the Olympics - defending or not defending your title, that does not matter.
“The bigger picture is what makes me happy, which we are still working on. We’ll see, as time goes by, what it is that we have to do to get to the Olympics, which is still in the process.”
TeamSA’s preparations for this year’s Olympics are well underway. Sascoc last November named a group of 57 athletes earmarked to participate in Tokyo - including Semenya.
The Games themselves, however, are currently in doubt as to whether they will start on July 24, and indeed, if they will even take place at all, as fears continue to grow regarding the outbreak of the Covid-19 Coronavirus in Japan.
Nevertheless, Semenya remained confident that the Games, and for that matter, the participating athletes, would be ready, willing and able to tackle that fear head on.
“You can never have fear, because we have come across such challenges before at the Olympics,” she said, referring to the Zica virus scare of the 2016 Rio Games.
Additional reporting by Xilombe Mathye