Caster Semenya File picture: Chris Collingridge/African News Agency/ANA
Caster Semenya File picture: Chris Collingridge/African News Agency/ANA

She is changing the world. Her name is Caster Semenya

By Ockert De Villiers Time of article published Aug 8, 2019

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Johannesburg - August marks a decade since Caster Semenya became South Africa’s golden girl at the 2009 Berlin World Championships sending ripples through the athletics world. 

It has been a decade characterised by both incredible highs but equally desperate lows as she constantly had to convince the world she belonged on the track with other women. 

Semenya has emerged as the picture of resilience as the war on her right to compete ebbed and flowed since she won her first world 800m gold medal as an 18-year-old. 

Like a deer caught in the gleam of the world's media, Semenya has matured into a defiant figure fighting not only for her rights to compete but for women that may not fit the traditional mould.

Her undulating journey has to lead her to the pinnacle of her sport, where she has established herself as one of the greatest female middle-distance athletes.

Semenya has won three world 800m titles and two Olympic gold medals since 2009 highlighting her pedigree. Emphasising her dominance, Semenya has not lost a major 800m race since September 2015. She is also the only women in history to dip below 50 seconds, two minutes, and four minutes in the 400m, 800m, and 1500m, respectively.

Semenya has made serious strides towards the world 800m record over the last two years edging closer to Czech athlete Jarmila Kratochvilova’s dust-covered time of 1:53.28 from 1983.

But her progress has been stunted with the IAAF introducing their controversial female eligibility rules which Semenya challenged before the Court for Arbitration for Sport (CAS) earlier this year. 

The rule bans athletes with Differences in Sexual Development (DSD) from competing in the restricted events unless they lower their testosterone concentration to less than five nanomoles per litre of blood.

When the CAS ruled in favour, Semenya once again demonstrated her fighting spirit launching an appeal at the Swiss Federal Supreme Court.

Although Semenya had a brief reprieve the Swiss Court this week ruled the regulations would be implemented pending the appeal. 

“I am very disappointed to be kept from defending my hard-earned title, but this will not deter me from continuing my fight for the human rights of all of the female athletes concerned,” Semenya said.

IOL Sport

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