The ever so infamous Caster Semenya the middle distance (800m) runner from South Africa gleefully snatches up gold and fills her country and people myself included with a rejuvenated sense of pride and vigour and yet now still her win will most probably be diluted by news outlets and instead the issue or lack thereof regarding her gender will take centre stage in every feature, as it has over the past 7 years since her win at World Championships at 18 in 2009. I remember clearly as the story and saga unfolded on South African media and television , constantly bombarded by new stories regarding Caster’s imposed gender testing which is a very private thing to endure I might add.
The results of the test concluded that she has hyperandrogenism, a condition which means her testosterone levels are three times that of the average woman and this results in her significantly more muscular physique and thus has opened her up to a world of scrutiny and controversy. Semenya herself identifies as female as also stipulated on her birth certificate and has been reported saying in an interview with South African magazine “YOU” “God made me the way I am and I accept myself.” At the end of the day, she is an athlete with an advantage, not exactly something we have not encountered before.
In order to compete at the Olympics in the women’s category it is speculated that she consumed testosterone suppressing drugs to reach an acceptable level as stipulated by new regulations created regarding intersex athletes. To be honest. I think it is completely horrific and saddening to see Caster be victimized by the media and constantly be denied the rights to her hard work and terrific achievements. The only ray of hope for me has been the reaction of my fellow South Africans and the way our society has progressed since 2009. Now we have a nation who rallied together and created the hashtag #HandsOffOurCaster, set our alarms bright and early for 2AM, all to continue to provide her with love and support. We are incredibly proud of her success and expected no less, so if the rest of the world decides to pick you apart, we are here to pick you up again. She continues to inspire and entirely new generation. A special day in history not just for South Africans, but for the world. Our Caster, black excellence extraordinaire daring to challenge boundaries both on and off the track.