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Olympic Gold Medallist Caster Semenya has fought through it all

2 min read

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Olympic Gold Medallist Caster Semenya has fought through it all
Source: BrightVibes

Olympic Gold medallist Caster Semenya has broken many records, but her journey has been far from easy.

Caster Semenya

Caster Semenya is a record-breaking middle-distance runner from South Africa. Because of her success, she came under scrutiny and many tried to pull her down. But she persevered and is now stronger and better than ever.

Caster Semenya has overcome many hardshipsSource: Facebook BrightVibes

Soccer or Running

Caster was raised by her grandmother in rural Polokwane in South Africa. She loved the outdoors and greatly enjoyed playing soccer. Because there wasn’t a woman’s division in her town, she often played in the men’s division.

Growing up, you spend a lot of time on the street, running and playing soccer; that’s very normal. But for me it was a bit different because I as a girl grew up with and around boys, everything was always all about boys.

Later she enrolled at the Moletjie Athletics club in her village where her running career began. During her teens she trained and played soccer every day. She even ran from village to village. After completing grade 12 she went to study Sports Science at the University of North West, a placewhere her athletic career took centre stage.

Source: brightVibes

A lot of accomplishments

At 18, she won her first gold medal in the women’s 800 meters at the World Championships. An amazing accomplishment, made even more extraordinary by the fact that she trained herself without any help from a coach.

No one expected me to win because I was a fairly small girl. For me, it was all about enjoying what I am doing.

Soon after winning gold she received worldwide praise for setting the fastest time of the year. She was voted Track and Field News number one women’s 800 m runner of 2009.

“I never dreamt of being well known for these accomplishments. I wanted to be either the best footballer or the best runner. Unfortunately, in football I saw that it was all about teamwork and that didn’t work that well for me, so running it was!”

Source: BrightVibes

The Darkside

The praise for her accomplishments however soon turned negative. The IAAF ordered that Semenya undergo a gender verification test, because they didn’t believe a woman could run that fast. It caused Semenya to be at the centre of debates surrounding gender testing and testosterone levels in women’s sport.

She has been subjected to chaos, confusion and controversy for years. In 2010 the 27-year-old was denied opportunities to compete professionally by the International Association of Athletics Federation as they were investigating her sexual identity, of which later they allowed Semenya to compete. But Semenya has endured it and she came out even stronger.

I’m a positive person and I look at things in a positive way instead of focusing on negativity, I look to the future and try not to be bothered by such allegations.

In 2012 she bagged SA’s sixth medal at the London Olympics. She was the first black South-African woman to win a medal at the Olympics. Semenya recently broke the Commonwealth Games record to win another gold medal in the women’s 1500m race in a blistering time of 4:00.71.

Caster Semenya’s attitude is a true testament that as long as you believe in yourself you can break any barrier that you might face.

Source: BrightVibes