IN QUOTES | Caster Semenya: 'My plan is to run until I’m 35'
South African Olympic champion Caster Semenya says she has never felt supported, especially by women in sports.
The two-time Olympic champion was speaking at the Standard Bank Top Women’s Conference at Emperors Palace in Kempton Park, Johannesburg, on Wednesday.
She touched on various issues affecting women in sports and how her humble beginnings made her the tough woman she had become.
Here are six quotes from her talk:
Semenya said she grew up around boys and was never bullied as a child.
"I grew up with boys and was always in the bush. Bullies for me never existed, because how I responded to them was way rough.
"I was one of those young girls that had no fear. I had goals. I knew that everything I touched would turn to gold."
'Running is my destiny'
She said she had always known that running was meant for her.
"My dad thought I was going to be with Banyana Banyana, but I disappointed him, because I had to sell my soccer boots for spikes instead.
"He was quite surprised. Running is my destiny. When I’m on track, I forget about everything."
Support from women
The athlete, who has had to overcome a number of hurdles during her career, most recently a ruling by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) on testosterone levels, said she never felt supported by women.
"Since I have been in sport, I have never really felt very supported. I’ve never felt recognised, especially by women.
"I think it comes more into the international stage, when you see your own rivals come with this, what can I call it, these rude responses in terms of me competing against them."
Proving she is a woman
Semenya said even as a youngster she sometimes had to prove she was a woman, as her teammates struggled to compete against her.
"They started questioning, 'are you really a girl?'. One day, I walked naked into the change room to prove to them that I was a woman."
Running until 35
Semenya said she still saw herself as a middle-distance runner.
"My plan is to run until I’m 35. Whoever is going to stop me from running is going to have to drag me out of the track.
"There's not much that I can say about the case. What I can tell you is that I am on top of my game."
She said she was undecided about whether she would switch to longer distances or pursue a career in another sport.
"In terms of changing events, I haven’t decided anything about moving up or moving down. I still consider myself a middle-distance runner.
"I’m not giving up yet. I’m still there. I still feel young. My body can still tell me, 'look, you can still go more and more'."
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