Who is Caster Semenya? Beating gender verification tests and winning Olympic Gold


Caster SemenyaIf you’re a betting man/woman you probably want a sure thing right? If so, then bet on Caster Semenya, because trust me, Caster Semenya is going to win an olympic gold medal.

Caster Semenya is a South African  800 meters middle distance runner and 2009 IAAF gold medalist.

As with most black South Africans, Casters personal story is one of growing up in poverty and beating the odds to become a world champion. Her story is one that hollywood movies are made of, but unlike hollywood movies, everything is real, and everything that has happend to Caster so far has been really real. Having grown up in a village in the Limpopo province, Caster trained with other pupils on dirt roads and in bushes, being relentlessly mentored by her coaches Jeremiah Mokaba and Phineas Sako, staunch Christians and members of the Zion Christian Church.

Casters early ambition was to be a part of South Africas female football team, “Banyana Banyana” , which translated literally means “the young girls”. Having tried out and failed to make the squad, she turned her attention to running and concentrated on the 800 meters.

Working tirelessly she honed her running skills breaking South Africa’s long time barefoot running darling Zola Budds national record. Even as she broke this record there were already whispers floating around about Caster Semenya gender. The IAAF had received several emails informing them to “look into the matter”. On the day before her world championship race in Berlin, the IAAF announced that Caster would under go gender verification tests. Inspite of this obviously disheartening news, Caster ran the race of her life and won the gold. However, the IAAF banned her from competition for almost a year and Caster underwent further humiliating tests to verify her gender.

Caster was reported to have said, “I was the favourite to win in Berlin, but I was very lonely,” she says. “I knew what the newspapers were writing about me and what was being said on TV, but I did not care. “I knew what my job was – I wrote down my plans for the various heats, one by one, ‘this is how the semi final should be run’ and so on, and also the final.

“Of course I was very hurt, but I did my job.”

The results of the gender verification tests were sketchy and inconclusive but a leaked report published in the Australian Daily Telegraph indicated that Caster  Semenya was a hermaphrodite, possessing both male and female charecteristics. She was a female outside but a male internally, which is why her testosterone levels were so high.

The IAAF has never released the official results and after the South Africans fought the scrutinization of Caster, the ban was lifted and Caster is allowed to race again.

The olympics are undoubtedly going to be Casters stage and having carried the South African flag at the opening ceremony she has the whole of South Africa rooting for her. Inspired by Nelson Mandela who she met when she was young, she has stated her intention to dedicate her Gold medal to him. At the London Olympics Caster intends to leave the past literally in the dirt and if anyone can do it, she can.

William hill has 5/1 betting odds on Caster Semenya winning Gold, meaning if you place a $£€100 bet you will win $£€600.

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