The Independent on Saturday - - SPORT - OCKERT DE VIL­LIERS

ockert.dev­il­liers@inl.co.za DID YOU hear what Caster Se­menya said about the IAAF’s new fe­male el­i­gi­bil­ity rules? Nei­ther did I be­cause other than a short state­ment from her lawyers, Se­menya did all the talk­ing with her feet.

Ev­ery step at ev­ery meet, whether on home soil or on the in­ter­na­tional stage, she planted with deaf­en­ing de­fi­ance.

Se­menya de­serves ev­ery ac­co­lade that comes her way and should be a role model for ev­ery young as­pir­ing ath­lete.

She dropped the odd so­cial me­dia post sub­tly telling the IAAF to go stuff their new reg­u­la­tions.

Although Se­menya stayed in her lane she sent out a strong state­ment through­out the sea­son that she will not be bul­lied.

The IAAF an­nounced its new reg­u­la­tions in April which would at­tempt to reg­u­late women that nat­u­rally pro­duce testos­terone lev­els above five nanomoles per litre.

The new pol­icy would be limited to ath­letes that com­pete in events rang­ing from the 400m to the mile and would come into ef­fect Novem­ber 1. Se­menya re­sponded to the reg­u­la­tions by smash­ing records left, right and cen­tre in all three dis­tances.

She has been a cat­e­gory-five hur­ri­cane on the track this sea­son, show­ing the mid­dle fin­ger to her de­trac­tors.

Se­menya fin­ished the year un­beaten in the 800 me­tres for the third con­sec­u­tive year.

Her list of ac­co­lades tells a story of un­ri­valled dom­i­nance. The list in­cludes Commonwealth 800m and 1500m gold medals, African 400m and 800m ti­tles, a sec­ond con­sec­u­tive Di­a­mond League 800m series ti­tle, Con­ti­nen­tal Cup 800m gold medal and 400m sil­ver.

She set new South African records in the 400m, 800m, 1000m and 1500m, demon­strat­ing in­cred­i­ble ver­sa­til­ity never seen be­fore.

When she set a new South African record in the one-lap sprint Se­menya be­came the first fe­male ath­lete to dip be­low 50 sec­onds in the 400m, two min­utes in the 800m and four min­utes over the 1500m dis­tances.

While Se­menya may rightly feel she had been dis­crim­i­nated against since she started her ca­reer in 2009, she has never re­sponded in anger.

There have been mo­ments where she has shown her ir­ri­ta­tion over ques­tions about the testos­terone reg­u­la­tions but she has al­ways kept it classy.

Her approach has been re­fresh­ing against the back­drop of a cul­ture of out­rage that fes­ters on so­cial me­dia plat­forms.

The pub­lic re­sponse to the US Open women’s fi­nal is an ex­am­ple of how so­ci­ety seems to have lost the mid­dle ground.

There were vary­ing de­grees of out­rage fol­low­ing the match, with people mak­ing stand­points for or against Serena Wil­liams’ re­sponse to what she be­lieved was sex­ism on the part of chair um­pire Car­los Ramos.

Dif­fer­ing views are es­sen­tial for crit­i­cal think­ing to take place, but too of­ten so­cial me­dia plat­forms be­come a place where people get lost in their echo cham­bers.

I have read co­pi­ous amounts of opin­ions on both sides of the spec­trum and I can hon­estly say I can­not pick a side and that is fine.

We do not al­ways have to have an opinion. Some­times it is bet­ter to guard your tongue and some­times our ac­tions speak louder than words.

If only more people could be more like Caster…

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