It must be tough being South African track star Caster Semenya.
Instead of carrying yourself like a sex goddess (like so many in the limelight), Caster is under the inverse predicament: Track and field officials apparently think she’s a man.
She even had to take a gender test to validate her gold medal, in the 800M sprint last month.
Just this week a South African publication — You Magazine — hired a stylist to make Caster over and published the photos for her critics to finally see what we already now.
Caster Semenya is a woman. A strong, proud young black woman. Now, she may have style issues, but at 18 years of age, who didn’t?
“I’d like to dress up more often and wear dresses but I never get the chance,” she told You. “I am who I am and I’m proud of myself.”
But why did she even have to be subjected to the Hatorade? While here in the USA she’s not as widely known, the controversy is huge in Europe, where many world track athletes are household names.
After Caster thoroughly demolished the competition at the World Athletics Championships, race officials, spurred on by Semenya’s opponents, incredulously alleged that she was of the male gender.
To make matters worse, her coach Wilfred Daniels resigned this week, saying that he felt bad that he had Caster take a gender exam that was misrepresented to her as a doping test. Daniels told the Associated Press “there’s only one way for me to deal with this, and that was to say sorry and walk away.”
Daniels said the whole ordeal was unfair to Caster and that he should have told her about the media spectacle that was about to hit. He said the right thing to have done was to pull her to the side and tell her “this is what’s going to happen, this is how gender verification tests are done, these are your rights,” he said. “Those are the kind of issues that we didn’t explain to her.”
What’s more telling is that the he IAAF, track and field’s international governing body, could publicly humiliate a black woman and there not be the slightest outrage among the populace.
To silence her critics, Caster did the photoshoot that shows off a new hairdo. Caster has displayed incredible humility and courage through the whole controversy.
“I see it all as a joke, it doesn’t upset me,” she said in the magazine. “God made me the way I am and I accept myself”.
It’s a shame a sister had to get a makeover to silence her critics. Many black athletes in the track world, including retired sprinter Michael Johnson, have criticized racing officials over the incident.
Her poor parents did all they could to convince people that their 18-year-old daughter was in fact a girl.
“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,” father Jacob Semenya was quoted as saying.
After winning the gold in the 800M race, it was reported that Semenya said privately that she considered boycotting the medal ceremony. She went through with it, but has become an example of quiet strength for many young women.
As for her detractors, they’ll have to eat dust.
[photo credit: www.mirror.co.uk]