Caster Semenya, the 28 year old South African middle-distance running champion is this month’s cover star for Out Magazine.
Semenya is currently fighting the International Association of Athletics Federation’s (IAAF) decision to ban her from competing. Out Magazine rightly refers this to “the fight of her life”. The two-time Olympic gold medalist and triple world champion in the women’s 800 m is contesting the IAAF rule stating, “female athletes with ‘differences of sex development’ (presence of XY chromosome pairings normally found in men) -could not compete in women’s races from the 400 m to the mile, unless they lowered their natural testosterone through medical intervention to a level closer to the ‘female range’.
She talks to the magazine about when she started running. Semenya explains how she sought freedom from being taunted for her tomboyish ways.
“When I do sports is when I feel happy. I feel free. As long as I remember, it was all about being free.” she said.
Semenya has faced scrutiny and abuse surrounding her gender for a decade. After winning the 800m final in 2009, her competitors were at the frontlines in attacking her. Out Magazine notes, “Italy’s Elisa Cusma Piccione (sixth place) insisted she was a man. Russia’s Mariya Savinova (fifth place) urged journalists to “just look at her”. Then came the IAAF.”
She then challenged the IAAF in the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which settles global sports disputes. In May, the CAS announced it was upholding the IAAF regulation. Semenya then took her case to Switzerland’s Supreme Court, which ordered a temporary suspension of the rules until it issues a decision.
Out’s cover shows Semenya’s greatest moments when competing. The photo shoot, done by Dana Scruggs, shows Semenya unbending and at her most inspiring. Fighting a battle against the world but still we all root for her.
She cements her stance with these words, “It is not fair that people question who I am. I am Mokgadi Caster Semenya. I am a woman, and I am fast.”
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