I make jokes about Caster Semenya, my friends do, people on twitter do and we also scrutinize her every move but truth of the matter is 78% of all of us who have turned her life into a spectacle cannot walk a minute in her shoes.
Semenya stepped on to the track field in Berlin for the world championships as an 18 year old and zoomed to victory making South Africa proud. Then the trouble began! Apparently she exhibited high levels of testosterone thus putting her gender into question. She was left in limbo for months as the media ran with it, turning it into one disgusting abyss. What puzzled and infuriated was the rather un-usual interest the western media took an interest in all of this, the same media who hardly celebrate our athletes with such obsession. I must admit it made for a good read and good dinner conversation. I always thought, ‘why is it so hard to determine if she is a woman or not? Don’t they just have pull pants down and see what she has?’, simply looking at Caster leaves you horribly confused, muscular physique puts me and hundreds of couch potatoes to shame, when engaging in conversation I still come in second, voice is so deep. I ransacked the internet for answers then for answers and even now I am still confused. No direct answer comes to play; the authorities just fuelled speculation by refusing to reveal the results of the test.
“…there will be no public announcement of what the panel of scientists has found… We urge all South Africans and other people to respect this professional, ethical and moral way of doing things.” – Statement from Ministry of Sports, South Africa.
She was allowed to keep her gold medal and her winnings.
‘The testing done on Semenya takes weeks to complete. It requires a physical medical evaluation, and includes reports from a gynecologist, an endocrinologist, a psychologist, an internal medicine specialist and an expert on gender. The effort, coordinated by Dr. Harold Adams, a South African on the I.A.A.F. medical panel, was conducted at hospitals in Berlin and South Africa.’ – Longman J, New York Times.
What the public and media have to go by now is just speculation.
“… the results … reportedly showed that while Semenya has external female genitalia, she has internal testes, no womb or ovaries and elevated levels of testosterone. This means that she has what doctors call a disorder of sexual development, and has some traits that are typically associated with women and others that are typically associated with men.” – Epstein
Deciding not to reveal her results was a choice entirely left to Semenya, good or bad we will never really know, but truth be told her gender business will always overshadow her, some media outlets think she should just reveal the results just so she wins the public accepts the situation and moves on. All the secrecy only fuels this spectacle, we will never really know.
It looked like everything was behind her; she was allowed to compete, as a woman. The world waited with baited breath for the London Olympics to watch Caster Semenya race, she even told the media just how much she looked forward to it. Emphasis was on letting the past go, but it’s hard to let that past go when we do not know exactly what it is we should let go.
She raced in the London Olympics 800m final and came in second and another storm has dominated that result. DID CASTER SEMENYA TANK!? Did she purposively lose so as to avoid public scrutiny? Whether we like it or not Gold attracts more attention. Athletics enthusiasts say either Caster is tactically inept or she lost it on purpose.
David Ornstein of the BBC apparently was quoted as saying Caster Semenya seemed to have ‘had more left in the tank’, Kelly Holmes, winner in 2004 Olympics in Athens also remarked “She looked very strong, she didn't look like she went up a gear, she wasn't grimacing at all. I don't know if her head was in it, when she crossed the line she didn't look affected.", a tweet from Sports illustrated senior writer Tim Layden implied the same, claiming she looked oddly disengaged most of the race and hardly tired at the end of it all.
If she really did fail on purpose I would not blame her, it just goes to show how much the whole scandal affected her. Caster Semenya is a strong human being and should be congratulated for smiling through such a horrific time in her life. The ‘flak’ she has received over time has hurt and only the strong willed would have survived it.
What is sad in all of this is that if at all she did tank to avoid scandal, she just heaped more attention on herself because as we speak Caster Semenya’s silver medal triumph is more interesting than the Russian woman’s gold.
Poor Caster, her life would never go back to what it was because the media has their hooks on it, and when the media rapes you the public sits by videotaping everything so as to replay it over and over again.
Semenya is strong, I admire her courage, I feel sorry for her.
Below are just a few tweets on Caster I found, what the Twitter Public thinks:
@Selefa88: Caster semenya ke monna str8!!!
@WonderXi: Now that the #olympics2012 are over, does South Africa go back to iIl-treating Caster Semenya
@tshidi_lee: What the hell do South Africans want from Caster Semenya?? She's been humiliated & still stood strong to rep SA! quit that!
@Sotho2: The obsession the western world has with putting Caster Semenya's every action under a microscope is nothing short of disgusting..
@savwd: public humiliation gender questioning,but you stood up still and say..I'm a woman of strength .we proud of you CasterSemenya..
@KCMokoma: CasterSemenya has performed slightly below her true maximum potential
@CollectaCan: We are very proud of Caster Semenya :-)
@hlemna_Ngubs: Tota ga ke rate ka fa batho ba sotlakakang Caster Semenya,mxcm
@PascalZidane: Disgraceful what happened to Caster Semenya at the world Championships back 2009, they ruined her proudest moment. Glad she got her silver.