Caster con­tin­ues to reaf­firm her role as one of our land’s most in­spir­ing fe­males

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

I’VE come face to face with brav­ery, I’ve seen it in ac­tion, I’ve seen it al­most ev­ery year since April 2012.

Her brav­ery first came to the fore as a storm erupted eight years ago, when the In­ter­na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Ath­let­ics Fed­er­a­tions (IAAF) asked Caster Se­menya to un­dergo a gen­der “test” just days be­fore the women’s 800m fi­nal, at the world cham­pi­onships in Ber­lin, in 2009.

It is funny that, al­most a decade af­ter Se­menya was dis­sected and placed un­der the pry­ing eyes of the in­ter­na­tional me­dia, she still has to an­swer ques­tions that are no­body’s busi­ness.

Dig­ni­fied in her an­swers when­ever the topic sur­faces, Se­menya was hardly af­forded the same dig­nity, when her med­i­cal records were leaked to the me­dia.

While the whole world dis­cussed and de­bated ev­ery de­tail of what was sup­posed to have been con­fi­den­tial, the peo­ple that were sup­posed to pro­tect her re­main anony­mous.

As much as Se­menya tries to mind her own busi­ness, the is­sue al­ways seems to sur­face be­fore ma­jor cham­pi­onships.

She has suc­cess­fully navi- gated past the Lon­don 2012 Games, walk­ing away with the sil­ver with the is­sue seem­ingly fad­ing away, half­way into the next Olympic cy­cle.

En­ter the Court of Ar­bi­tra­tion for Sports (CAS) rul­ing that test­ing on fe­male ath­letes tak­ing testos­terone sup­pres­sants be sus­pended, af­ter In­dian sprinter, Du­tee Chand’s suc­cess­ful ap­peal of her ban from com­pe­ti­tion in July 2015.

The CAS ruled the IAAF needed to pro­vide sci­en­tific ev­i­dence that en­hanced testos­terone lev­els trans­lated into im­proved per­for­mances in hy­per­an­dro­genic ath­letes.

Af­ter win­ning her maiden gold medal at the Rio Olympic Games, Se­menya again had to put up a brave face as she fielded ques­tions.

Asked whether Se­menya and her fel­low medal­lists Mar­garet Wam­bui and Bu­rundi’s Francine Niyon­s­aba were tak­ing any med­i­ca­tion to lower testos­terone lev­els, the South African gave a stern an­swer.

“Ex­cuse me my friend, tonight is all about per­for­mance, we are not here to talk about the IAAF and some spec­u­la­tions,” Se­menya said.

“Tonight is all about per­for­mances and this press con­fer­ence is about the 800m that we ran to­day, so thank you.”

Shortly be­fore these world cham­pi­onships in the English cap­i­tal, the IAAF pub­lished its re­search in sup­port of its sus­pended hy­per­an­dro­genism reg­u­la­tions.

Se­menya was again asked about the pos­si­bil­ity of CAS rul­ing in favour of the IAAF and what it would mean for her go­ing for­ward.

Again show­ing her brav­ery and re­straint, Se­menya firmly made the point that the IAAF’s bid to re­in­state its reg­u­la­tions had noth­ing to do with her.

“I have no time for non­sense, so med­i­ca­tion, no med­i­ca­tion,” Se­menya said.

“Look, I’m an ath­lete, I don’t have time for such things. You un­der­stand?”

“It is their own de­ci­sion, my fo­cus is now for me to get healthy and com­pete. I re­ally don’t have time for non­sense.”

Se­menya has cer­tainly come full cir­cle and, in the week the world was cel­e­brat- ing In­ter­na­tional Women’s Day, she reaf­firmed her role as one of the coun­try’s most in­spir­ing fe­male fig­ures.

The South African icon has, time and time again, demon­strated her fear­less na­ture when the world seems to be against her.

The ed­u­cated and pas­sion­ate ath­letic crowd at the Queen El­iz­a­beth Olympic Sta­dium have shown Se­menya the re­spect she so richly de­serves.

While much of the at­ten­tion ahead of the cham­pi­onships was fo­cussed on her male com­pa­triot, Wayde van Niekerk’s dou­ble at­tempt, Se­menya qui­etly went about her busi­ness rac­ing both the 800m and 1 500m.

With the 1 500m al­ready in the bag, Se­menya is on the cusp of win­ning her sec­ond world 800m gold medal, which would fur­ther ce­ment her place as one of the world’s greats.

And while she jug­gles the pres­sures of rac­ing at the cham­pi­onships, Se­menya has to find time for her as­sign­ments as part of her stud­ies.

She is likely to line up in Sun­day’s fi­nal and, while she may be the topic of con­ver­sa­tion for other rea­sons, Se­menya will con­tinue to brush it off.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.