Capetonians and fellow South Africans were filled with pride on Sunday night when homegrown talent, Caster Semenya cruised to her third 800m world title, winning gold at the IAAF World Championships in London.
The defending Olympic champion and also the world champion in 2009 and 2011, scored her fastest time of the year so far, clocking in at 1:55. 16.
Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba, Olympic silver medallist and world indoor champion, finished second in 1:55.92, while American Ajee Wilson took the bronze medal with a time of 1:56.65.
Earlier last week, Semenya surged to a bronze medal in her first major final in the longer 1500m event. Controversy surrounding the 26 year old’s high levels of testosterone is back in the spotlight after the IAAF is looking to reinstate a rule that limits the amount of testosterone a female athlete can have in their body. This comes following a study funded by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) into the condition of hyperandrogenism.
The findings revealed that female athletes with naturally high testosterone levels enjoy a competitive advantage of up to 4.5 percent over their rivals. The rule was previously suspended by the Court of Arbitration for Sport for nearly two years in July 2015.
Semenya, who usually avoids the controversy, said she is tired of the narrative and the scrutiny that comes along with it: “For me I have no time for that. It’s been like this since 2009. For me, when you listen to music and have one song playing each and every time… it’s been almost nine years and it’s quite boring. I have no time for that.”
However, candid UK columnist Katie Hopkins caused a storm on Twitter over the weekend, following her harsh tweets about the athlete’s gender identification. She suggested that is unfair that Semenya competes in the women’s athletics because her “internal testes” gives her an unfair advantage. South African’s were quick to jump to the medalist’s defence.
Semenya also stands to be awarded the 2012 Olympic gold medal after Russian winner Mariya Savinova was disqualified for doping, yet she now has to await further meetings between the IAAF and CAS to discover if she again has to take testosterone suppressing medication.