Caster Semenya lifts the South African flag after winning the 800 metres at the 2017 IAAF World Championships. Photo: Franck Robichon/EPA

One wonders just what Caster Semenya needs to do to receive recognition from athletics’ global governing body.

She has all but conquered the world in not only her specialist 800m, but in other distances from the 200m to the 3 000m.

Her world domination in the two-lap event that stretches over two years should, surely, have made her a shoo-in to at least make the three-woman shortlist at this year’s IAAF Athlete of the Year Awards.

This is the second straight year Semenya was named among the initial nominees for the female athlete of the year, only to miss out on the next round.

Annual awards are by their very nature based on subjective processes and there will always be debates about who should be honoured.

The IAAF Council’s vote counted for 50 percent, while the IAAF Family’s votes and the public votes each counted for 25 percent of the result.

Most of the votes belonged to people that are supposed to know the sport which ultimately exposes the IAAF’s bias against Semenya.

Ethiopian Almaz Ayana, who won the award last year, once again made the cut along with Nafissatou Thiam of Belgium and Greece’s Ekaterini Stefanidi.

All three athletes occupied the top positions in their respective events with heptathlete Thiam and pole-vaulter Stefanidi both moving into fourth place on the all-time list in their respective events.

The case for Semenya is a strong one after she raced to her third world title while adding an unexpected 1,500m bronze medal against specialist three-and-three-quarter athletes.

Semenya raced to victory in London clocking 1:55.16, posting her sixth national 800m record and the fastest in the world for nine years.

She moved into eighth place on the world all-time list, becoming the second fastest African athlete behind former Kenyan world champion Pamela Jelimo, who holds the continental record of 1:54.01.

In her final curtain call of the season, she set a new world 600m best of 1:21.77 at her home away from home, Berlin, in August’s World Challenge.

One cannot help but feel that the current IAAF-funded study to prove female athletes with naturally high levels of testosterone have an advantage over their rivals, has something to do with her being snubbed.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) suspended an IAAF rule that enforced a limit on naturally occurring levels of testosterone, citing a lack of scientific evidence.

The ongoing saga and Semenya’s omission from the shortlist may not be related but the IAAF tend to avoid any further controversy after their poor handling of the issue back in 2009.

Meanwhile, Semenya can do nothing but continue to shine on the track and eventually it will be impossible not to give her the recognition she deserves.

Semenya is edging painstakingly close to Czech Jarmila Kratochvílová’s dust-covered 800m world record of 1983.

Wiping that time from the record books may see Caster finally take her rightful place by being honoured among the best in the world. Don’t hold your breath, though.


Saturday Star

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