Daegu, South Korea – Caster Semenya's manager says the global 800m champion will only defend her title in Daegu, South Korea next week if she can handle the emotional difficulties with which she is faced.
Semenya scorched to victory in the women's two-lap final at the global championships in Berlin in 2009, shrugging off controversy in the midst of a media circus surrounding her gender.
Two years later, having been cleared by the IAAF to compete against women, Semenya's manager, Jukka Harkonen, says she will need to rely on inner strength again if she hopes to repeat the feat.
“It's whether she handles the emotion that will determine how she does,” Harkonen said on Thursday.
“I don't believe anyone understands the pressure and turmoil Caster has survived in the past two years.
“It's not something that you or I would survive.
“She is a very special athlete, the sort that doesn't come along often.”
Semenya has not come close to repeating the national record 1:55.45 she set in Berlin, and has only twice this season dipped under two minutes.
The 20-year-old is ranked only 13th in the world this year and was recently reported to have been overweight and undertrained.
Harkonen, however, said Semenya would be ready for the physical task that lay ahead, with her first round heat scheduled for next Thursday, but would need to deal with the pressure she faced in Daegu.
If she failed to do that, Harkonen warned, she could be lost to the sport for good.
“The athlete part is easy. It's two to three hours of training a day,” Harkonen said.
“Living athletics 24 hours, as Caster has done for the past years, is the hard part.
“She has the talent to be around for years, but the way she has been treated could see her lost to the sport.” – Sapa