Gold Medal Winner Caster Semenya’s Gender Debate
Just the other day I was amazed by how the media lately has questioned known folks’ womanhood. (Remember when pop icon Donna Summers got tagged with ‘is she a he’? rumors or when Ciara first stepped out on the scene? EXACTLY!)
Well South African teenager Caster Semenya, gold medal winner of the 800-metre at Berlin’s world track and field championships, got hit with this hurtful, humiliating rumor. (Things that make me go hmm…)
Apparently Caster won the competition and the International Olympic Committee officials wish to conduct a gender test prior to her record breaking time of 1min 56.7secs. Okay? What in the world? The officials wanted results before she entered the competition???
(To Caster’s defense on this ‘is she a he” drama: “She doesn’t give a damn about it!”)
Is the controversy because she was able to run in a record breaking time in or it because she ‘appears’ to have broad shoulder, biceps and a deep voice? (Check out the video on the bottom of this post.)
If Caster is in fact a male she stands to lose her gold medal and world record.
Here’s how it all started…
BERLIN — Facing questions about her gender, South African teenager Caster Semenya easily won the 800-metre gold medal Wednesday at the world track and field championships.
Her dominating run came on the same day track and field’s ruling body said she was undergoing a gender test because of concerns she does not meet requirements to compete as a woman.
Semenya took the lead at the halfway mark and opened a commanding lead in the last 400 metres to win by a massive 2.45 seconds in a world-leading one minute, 55.45 seconds. Defending champion Janeth Jepkosgei was second and Jennifer Meadows of Britain was third in 1:57.93.
After crossing the line, Semenya dusted her shoulders with her hands. Semenya did not speak to reporters after the race or attend a news conference.
About three weeks ago, the international federation asked South African track and field authorities to conduct the verification test. Semenya had burst onto the scene by posting a world-leading time of 1:56.72 at the African junior championships in Maruitius.
Her dramatic improvement in times, muscular build and deep voice sparked speculation about her gender. Ideally, any dispute surrounding an athlete is dealt with before a major competition.
But Semenya’s stunning rise from unknown teenage runner to the favourite in the 800 happened almost overnight. That meant the gender test — which takes several weeks — could not be completed in time.
Before the race, IAAF spokesman Nick Davies stressed this is a “medical issue, not an issue of cheating.” He said the “extremely complex” testing has begun. The process requires a physical medical evaluation and includes reports from a gynecologist, endocrinologist, psychologist, internal medicine specialist and gender expert.
South Africa team manager Phiwe Mlangeni-Tsholetsane would not confirm or deny that Semenya was having such a test.
“We entered Caster as a woman and we want to keep it that way,” Mlangeni-Tsholetsane said. “Our conscience is clear in terms of Caster. We have no reservations at all about that.”
Although medals will be awarded for the 800, the race remains under a cloud until the investigation is closed, and Semenya could be stripped of the gold depending on the test results, IAAF general secretary Pierre Weiss said.
“But today there is no proof and the benefit of doubt must always be in favor of the athlete,” Weiss said.
Semenya’s rivals said they tried not to dwell on the issue before the race.
“I’ve heard a lot of speculation, but all I could do was just keep a level head and go about my business,” Meadows said. “If none of it’s true, I feel very sorry for her.”
One thing not in doubt was Semenya’s outstanding run. “Nobody else in the world can do that sort of time at the moment,” Meadows said. “She obviously took the race by storm.” [VANCOUVER SUN]
Before the competition, IAAF officials asked South Africa to submit a gender verification test on Caster’s behalf but her family and friends has quickly come to her defense.
Caster’s father has come out to speak about the debate…
Her father, Jacob, told the Sowetan newspaper: “She is my little girl. … I raised her and I have never doubted her gender. She is a woman and I can repeat that a million times.” [SPORTS ILLUSTRATED]
Check out Caster post-competition in her own words:
Speak on it!
Thanks to FG2BH reader Ozioma for the tip!