South African Athlete Faces Gender Test
My personal thoughts after reading this story revolve around the fact that many top female athletes have body frames and muscular physiques that are far more defined than that of the average woman. While I understand the curiosity surrounding South African distance runner Semenya Caster’s physique and male characteristics, I mainly question the audacity and timing of it all. She’s fairly new on the world stage in athletics, but this kind of subjugation is shocking to say the very least. I’m trying to understand the official reasoning for ordering the test, other than her blowing all the other ladies out of the water with her official times, but more than anything it’s my hope that during the gender testing process that’s been ordered by the IAAF, she is treated with the utmost respect. This situation appears to be somewhat humiliating beneath the surface, but her family, coach and teammates seem to be sticking by her side thus far. It’s sad to see such a young persons life played out in the media so heavily while dealing with a personal and very private matter; the question of ones sex. In any case, she won the gold so major congratulations to her and I’m hoping for a positive outcome.
According to The Daily Mail, Semenya’s mother; Mrs Sekgala, 80, said: ‘I know she’s a woman. I raised her myself.’
I’m very curious to see how all this pans out. If this claim is proved groundless, then apologies are due. She performed well under intense scrutiny and pressure. I’ll be following this story in the coming weeks when the test results are expected to be complete. Read the update on Semenya’s status here.
Tom Fordyce | 23:07 UK time, Wednesday, 19 August 2009
When Usain Bolt is no longer the main topic of conversation at the World Championships, you know something dramatic must have happened.
There had been whispers circulating about South African 800m prodigy Caster Semenya ever since she ran a spectacular 1 minute 56.72 seconds in a low-key meet on 26 July.
Not only was it the fastest time in the world this year by more than a second, it meant she had improved her personal best by seven seconds in less than nine months. And, she said afterwards, she could have run even quicker had it not been for a strong wind on the back straight.
For once, the tittle-tattle was not the usual sort about performance-enhancing substances. This was more basic and a whole lot nastier: was the ‘she’ actually a ‘he’?
It wasn’t just the rapid time. Semenya has a well-muscled physique. She also has a dusting of facial hair. Mix those three things together and ugly rumours spread like wildfire.
What no-one quite expected was the way the story would suddenly develop with the 800m final just hours away.
Earlier in the week, it had been the stuff of bar-room banter. The favourite quote was from Semenya’s coach Michael Seme, who had told reporters: “I can give you the telephone numbers of her room-mates in Berlin. They have already seen her naked in the showers and she has nothing to hide.”