Mental toughness is key for Caster
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.