Caster’s Rio rivals start whinging about her sex, again
CASTER Semenya’s Olympic rivals – threatened by the potential gold medal winner – are starting to fan the flames of controversy over the South African athlete’s sex.
But Semenya is not fussed. Her attitude is, simply: let’s take this outside to the track.
In an interview with BBC Radio yesterday, Paula Radcliffe, the marathon world record holder, questioned Semenya’s expected dominance in the 800m at next month’s Rio de Janeiro Games.
Semenya, 25, is the overwhelming favourite to take gold, but Radcliffe believes her hormonal make-up will cast a shadow over her victory.
Radcliffe said the expectation was there would be no other result than a Semenya victory: “Then it’s no longer sport and it’s no longer an open race.
“Obviously there is an issue – an issue that needs to be understood a lot better. What concerns me... we’ve seen the lengths countries like Russia will go to, to have major success on the world stage and on the Olympic stage,” the British runner said.
In 2009, after Semenya’s victory at the IAAF World Championships, she underwent a sex test, but the results were never made public.
US 1 500m record holder Shannon Rowbury has also criticised Semenya, saying her go- ahead to race in Rio had challenged and threatened the integrity of women’s sports because it meant “intersex” athletes could compete against women.
Semenya’s coach, Jean Verster, said yesterday Semenya had been firmly focused on Rio and no amount of criticism would derail her ambitions of winning gold in Brazil.
“We aren’t interested in what other people have to say. Caster has been cleared to run and that’s all that matters,” said Verster.
“People always look for some sort of sensation, because they are probably not so much on the radar as they used to be. They are trying to boost their own names and blow their own horns.”
Semenya had never been bothered by criticism, he said.
“She’s worked very hard for two years to get where she is today, extremely hard. So much so that she breaks down sometimes from the gruelling training she is put through. It took her three days to recover from her last race. She was really tired.”
Mentally, Semenya was also in a good frame on mind, said Verster.
“She’s in a good place, she’s happy, and confident.”
They were in a slightly lighter training phase.
“Caster has worked so hard this year and last year to try and get rid of all her injuries. It’s been a long and hard journey with many sacrifices.”
Verster said just like every other athlete competing in Rio, Caster would be aiming for gold.
“We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves. Caster has to get through the first round, then make the semi-finals and if she’s in the final than we definitely will be aiming for gold.
“Anything can happen. She wants to try and win a medal, as do many other athletes and she’s confident she will give it her best shot and hopefully it will come through.”
The Sport and Recreation Department has also given Semenya its full backing.
Spokesman Esethu Hasane said: “We are not really concerned with these kinds of comments made by individual athletes. They are bringing up something in the past that has been dealt with already.
“Caster has been given the go-ahead to run and there’s nothing else to say really. We continue to support her and she has our full backing going into the Rio Games,” he said. firstname.lastname@example.org