Caster Semenya dedicated her recent golden double at the Commonwealth Games to the late Winnie Madikizela-Mandela‚ saying she and her late ex-husband Nelson Mandela had ignited a fire inside her with their message to love and appreciate herself and to lead by example.
“Never be fooled by the noise. Silence is the best response to a fool. That’s what they told me.” Semenya has lived by that motto‚ not responding to critics vocal on the gender issue‚ instead continuing to perform on the track.
When Usain Bolt finally called the curtain on his illustrious career, everyone knew that the sport was desperate for a new hero. Caster Semenya, on the contrary, is everything that was hailed in Bolt.
She is exceptionally talented and composed as an athlete. And she knows how to put on a show.
Charismatic pose? Check. Infinitely polite and gracious? Check. Swagger? Double check. Can’t seem to stop winning, amazing story of thriving through adversity and also standing up for her fellow athletes? Check. Check. Check.
And yet, instead of embracing Semenya, the IAAF seems to want to do nothing but stop her.
On Thursday, the IAAF confirmed that it will be introducing a new ruling that requires any athlete who has a Difference of Sexual Development (DSD) to meet certain criteria, including taking medicine or undergoing surgery to manage those levels.
But the policy is deeply flawed and has already been widely criticised, because it’s being arbitrarily applied to certain events … which could affect Semenya directly since she competes in two of the events that are now being regulated.
It’s a shot in the foot for a governing body that is just not adapting to a new world of gender fluidity.
It’s also a shame, because in a time where athletics is under pressure, it could sure do with a hero.
Acknowledgement: David Isaacson, TimesLive & Antoinette Muller, Daily Maverick: IAAF ruling elicits widespread criticism