Men­tal tough­ness is key for Caster

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - LIFE -

IN SPORT, men­tal tough­ness is as im­por­tant for suc­cess as phys­i­cal tal­ent, hard work and coach- ing. Our gifted track star Caster Se­menya is go­ing need plenty of that re­solve go­ing into next month’s Olympic Games in Brazil. Her op­po­nents and other fe­male ath­letes have be­gun what the cyn­ics might say is a de­lib­er­ate cam­paign to “psych-out” the South African run­ner be­fore she sets foot on the track in Rio De Janeiro. Bri­tish ath­lete Paula Rad­cliffe, the marathon world record holder, has said the ex­pec­ta­tion that Se­menya will win gold is proof the race will not be fair. She also tried, out­ra­geously, to link Se­menya’s sit­u­a­tion with that of the Rus­sian dop­ing of ath- letes. And, Amer­i­can 1 500m record holder Shan­non Row­bury said Se­menya’s suc­cess threat­ened the in- tegrity of women’s sports be­cause it means “in­ter- sex” ath­letes com­pet­ing against women. The bit­ter com­ments of both women come de­spite the re­sults of a 2009 sex test – car­ried out after Se­menya’s vic­tory at the IAAF World Cham- pi­o­nships, the re­sults of which were never made pub­lic – and the fact she has been cleared to com- pete in Rio by the in­ter­na­tional ath­let­ics con­trol- ling body. Caster is not a cheat or part of some con­spir­acy. She is an ath­lete who wants only one thing – to be al­lowed to run. She has been through an emo­tional roller-coast- er over the years; the tar­get of hurt­ful com­ments and re­port­ing. Through it all, she has stood tall and now, said coach Jean Ver­ster, she doesn’t care what peo­ple say. “She’s worked very hard for two years to get where she is to­day. Ex­tremely hard... She’s in a good place, she’s happy, and con­fi­dent,” Ver­ster said. We ex­pect she will show her met­tle on the track – and on the Olympic podium.

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