Uncertain future for Caster Semenya after failed Tokyo Olympics bid

Uncertain future for Caster Semenya after failed Tokyo Olympics bid


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JOHANNESBURG – South Africa’s Caster Semenya on Wednesday failed to achieve the Olympic qualifying time in the women’s 5000m at an athletics meeting in Liege, Belgium, on Wednesday.

Semenya had been aiming to run inside the 5000m qualifying time of 15:10 but could only manage 15:50.12 in the event hardly-suited to the double women’s 800m Olympic champion. Her personal best over 5000m remains 15:32.14.

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In fact, the event in Belgium fell out of the World Athletics Olympic qualifying window – therefore even if Semenya had run the required time she would not have made it to the quadrennial showpiece.

The 30-year-old had been attempting to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics in the 5000m since she has not been allowed to compete in events from 400m to the mile without taking testosterone-lowering medication. Semenya has been effectively banned from her best events due to new rules passed by World Athletics for athletes with Difference of Sexual Development (DSD).

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It meant Semenya had two options, take the medication and compete in her best-suited events or ‘run free’ in distances she would not normally consider. Semenya, of course, opted to ‘run free’.

Semenya won gold in the women’s 800m at the Rio Olympics in what was the proudest moment of her career. Semenya had also won gold at the previous edition of the Olympics in London, but that was only after being upgraded from silver to gold, after finishing second to Russian Mariya Savinova who was disqualified for doping.

At the age of 18, Semenya was subjected to the most cruel and public shaming (which included crude gender tests carried out by athletics officials) in sporting history after winning the 2009 World Championship women’s 800m title.

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There were questions over her gender and whether she should be able to compete. The questions about her appearance have since shifted to her genetic makeup as a female athlete, with the ban by World Athletics coming in 2018, and effectively meant Semenya will never again (as the rules stand), be able to compete in the events in which she has excelled.

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African News Agency (ANA)

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