Mokgadi Caster Semenya Bronze OIB (born 7 January 1991) is a South African middle-distance runner and 2016 Olympic gold medalist.
Semenya won gold in the womenâ€™s 800 metres at the 2009 World Championships with a time of 1:55.45 in the final. Semenya also won silver medals at the 2011 World Championships and the 2012 Summer Olympics, both in the 800 metres. She was the winner of the gold medal in the 800 metre event at the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Following her victory at the 2009 World Championships, it was announced that she had been subjected to gender testing.Â She was withdrawn from international competition until 6 July 2010 when the IAAF cleared her to return to competition.Â In 2010, the British magazine New Statesman included Semenya in a list of â€œ50 People That Matter 2010â€
Early life and education
Semenya was born in Ga-Masehlong, a village in South Africa near Polokwane (previously called Pietersburg), and grew up in the village of Fairlie, deep in South Africaâ€™s northern Limpopo province. She has three sisters and a brother.
Semenya attended Nthema Secondary School and now attends the University of Pretoria as a sports science student.Â She began running as training for soccer
In July Semenya participated in the 2008 World Junior Championships, and won the gold in the 800 m at the 2008 Commonwealth Youth Games with a time of 2:04.23.
In the African Junior Championships Semenya won both the 800 m and 1500 m races with the times of 1:56.72 and 4:08.01 respectively.With that race she improved her 800 m personal best by seven seconds in less than nine months, including four seconds in that race alone.Â The 800 m time was the world leading time in 2009 at that date.Â It was also a national record and a championship record. Semenya simultaneously beat the Senior and Junior South African records held by Zelda Pretorius at 1:58.85, and Zola Budd at 2:00.90, respectively.
The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) says it was â€œobliged to investigateâ€ after she made improvements of 25 seconds at 1500 m and eight seconds at 800 mÂ â€“ â€œthe sort of dramatic breakthroughs that usually arouse suspicion of drug use.â€ The IAAF also asked Semenya to undergo a gender test after the win.News that the IAAF requested the test broke three hours before the 2009 World Championships 800 m final. IAAF president Lamine Diack stated, â€œThere was a leak of confidentiality at some point and this led to some insensitive reactions.
In August Semenya won gold in the 800 metres at the World Championships with a time of 1:55.45 in the final, again setting the fastest time of the year.
VIDEO:Â Caster Semenya takes silver in the Womenâ€™s 800m Final
12 Things You Must Know About Gold Medal Hopeful Caster Semenya:
1. She dominated the World Championships at just 18 years old. In 2009, Caster dominated the track when she won the 800-meter event with a time of 1:55.45, setting a new South African national record. She also holds the current South African national record with a time of 1:55.33.
2. Sheâ€™s already an Olympic medalist. Sheâ€™s no stranger to the games since she won the silver medal in the womenâ€™s 800-meter at the 2012 London Games. However, the runner who beat her, Russiaâ€™s Mariya Savinova, is now sidelined under a lifetime ban for doping, according toThe Guardian.
3. Thereâ€™s been some inappropriate hand-wringing over whether Caster should be able to compete against other women. In a New Yorker profile, Caster explained she had even shown competitors her genitalia to prove her gender. Still, while Caster has never confirmed this, many believe she has an intersex condition, according to Sports Illustrated. This means her body produces higher levels of testosterone than most women, which means she can build more muscle mass.
4. The International Association of Athletics Federations has tested Caster for gender verification. The process of verifying an athleteâ€™s gender isnâ€™t new, and it was announced that the IAAF asked Caster to take the test before the 2009 World Championships. The results were never made public, but Caster has been cleared to compete. She returned to competition in 2010.
5. And now sheâ€™s slated to take gold in this yearâ€™s 800-meter event. Give Caster a quick Google search and youâ€™ll find one dominating fact: This woman is poised to win gold this year. Caster has been dominating the track lately, and some people think itâ€™s due to a change in the IAAFâ€™s rules. Previously, there was a ceiling on testosterone levels for female athletes, and anyone who had levels above the ceiling would have to take testosteroneâ€‘suppressing medication in order to compete. People have noticed that during that time, Casterâ€™s times seemed to slow down. But now, the rule has been reversed, and Caster has been improving again.
6. And letâ€™s be real, speculating about her gender is not OK. Everyone wants the games to be â€œfair,â€ but Caster shouldnâ€™t be shamed for who she is, and at the end of the day, she has been cleared to compete, so that is that.
7. Also, she doesnâ€™t care about ~the haters~ one bit. Once, when a reporter asked her about the rumors that she wasnâ€™t a woman, she responded by saying, â€œI have no idea about that. I donâ€™t know. I donâ€™t give a damn about it.â€ Skip to 0:49 to see the badass moment:
8. Caster is a sports science student at the University of Pretoria in South Africa, where she also trains, though she was born in the small town of Ga-Masehlong, in South Africaâ€™s Limpopo province.
9. The 800-meter isnâ€™t even her favorite race. She told The Guardian that she actually prefers the 1,500-meter event more, even though sheâ€™s famous for the 800-meter. â€œI like [the 1,500-meter] race more than any other,â€ she explained. â€œI like how you can sit back and relax, and wait for the right moment, itâ€™s not like the 800 where you just need to go.â€
10. And running isnâ€™t in the only sport she loves. Caster also loves Manchester United and likes to watch golf, rugby, and Formula 1, according to the BBC. In fact, she was originally interested in football until a teacher introduced her to running.
11. Her times are almost unbeatable. According to Sports Illustrated, Caster ran in Monaco last month and won the 800-meter event with a time of 1:55.33. Only 11 women in history have run the event faster.
12. And she might beat the world record during this yearâ€™s Olympics. Because Casterâ€™s times keep improving, some think she might beat the world record of 1:53.28. The record was set by Jarmila KratochvÃlovÃ¡ 33 years ago, according to Sports Illustrated.
SOURCE: WIKIPEDIA,GETTY IMAGE, COSMOPOLITAN