Defiant South African Olympic gold medallist Caster Semenya has no time for her critics.
Semenya returned to South Africa yesterday and she said she had little time for those who tried to diminish her achievements in Brazil.
“A simple answer is that I have no time for those things‚” was Semenya’s response when she touched down at OR Tambo Airport yesterday.
“I would like to thank my fellow South Africans for such fantastic support. I love them and will always make them proud.
“It’s fantastic to come home to such a welcome. I am not one to be filled with too much emotion‚ but now I am very happy.”
Since dominating the 800m event as a teenager in 2009‚ a dark cloud of controversy has followed Semenya, 25.
While an unending “investigation” by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) continues‚ critics and bitter competitors continue to argue that the Olympic champion has an unfair biological advantage on the track because her testosterone is allegedly well above natural levels for a woman. But Semenya is unfazed. Despite being visibly angered by the unending cloud following Semenya‚ Sascoc president Gideon Sam indicated yesterday that the SA Olympic Committee would follow developments from a distance.
Sascoc wants to see finality to the IAAF investigation, to enable Semenya to compete without distractions.
“We are not going to protect her because she can protect herself on her own‚” Sam said as he attempted to remain calm.
“The only thing that we‚ and the athletics world‚ are saying is that it is time the IAAF was consistent and that they also deal with the issue.
“They have been given an instruction to please give a final ruling.
“They can’t wait for three years and then just before the Olympic Games come up with this thing because it is unfair.”
Sam said the IAAF’s failure to bring their case to finality was one of the reasons Semenya’s rivals were so critical.
“Even that girl from Britain [Lynsey Sharp]‚ you can’t really blame her because this thing has been hanging in the air for too long.
“We need a situation where people come forward and say: ‘This is the ruling’‚” the Sascoc president said.
“CAS [the Court of Arbitration for Sport] has said that they can’t take this fight forward until the IAAF gives us evidence that this does affect the performance of the athlete. “[The IAAF] have not done that. “They need to come forward with evidence that if you have high testosterone you will have an advantage over other athletes. “Now they can’t prove that. “Until such time as they can prove that‚ they must leave our athletes alone – not just our [South African] athletes but in Kenya‚ Russia and all over.”
Until a ruling that said Semenya had an unfair advantage over other athletes was made by the IAAF‚ Sam said, she would continue to take part in all other international events.
Semenya will next be heading to France where she will take part in the Diamond League.
“She can participate until they come up with evidence‚” Sam said.
“The ruling is that until you can put anything on the table that says: ‘Yes‚ it is so and they cannot compete with other athletes,’ there will be no questioning.
“She can go into the Diamond League now. She can go all over and make sure that she participates.”
The Sascoc president was appreciative of the support Semenya received on her way to winning the 800m gold medal in Rio. “The support is fantastic. “Everybody is beginning to understand now that these are tactics‚ but we are not going to fall for the trick‚” he said.
“When she was younger she couldn’t take it. She is now mature and is taking it in her stride.”