Semenya dedicates her Games medals to Winnie who inspired her

Caster Semenya celebrates winning gold in the Women’s 1500 metres final at the Commonwealth Games
Caster Semenya celebrates winning gold in the Women’s 1500 metres final at the Commonwealth Games
Image: Ryan Pierse / Getty Images

Caster Semenya on Friday dedicated her golden double at the Commonwealth Games to the late Winnie Madikizela-Mandela‚ saying she and her late ex-husband, Nelson Mandela, had ignited a fire inside her.

Semenya won the 800m in Gold Coast yesterday to add to the 1 500m title she claimed earlier in the week.

She and Madikizela-Mandela had enjoyed a good relationship, she said.

“We were very close. I was just sad when I heard the news, but I didn’t want to concentrate on that a lot. I just wanted to perform for her to show that appreciation‚” Semenya said.

The athlete obliged in fine style‚ winning both events in Games records‚ also breaking Zola Budd’s 34-year-old national mark in the 1 500m.

“I really appreciate what she has done for us as South Africans, so may her soul rest in peace.”

Semenya said Madikizela-Mandela’s message to her had been to love and appreciate herself.

“That’s the only thing these great leaders will tell you – the same as the late uTata Nelson Mandela told me – I’m a great athlete‚ I just need to lead by example,” Semenya said.

“I must go out there and show the world what we are made of. We are South African‚ we are a great nation.

“Never be fooled by the noise. Silence is the best response to a fool. That’s what they told me.

“I’m showing wherever they are looking down‚ they know they planted a seed in me that created this fire in me. I just carried on living the legacy.”

The Olympic and world 800m champion‚ who has now stretched her unbeaten streak in the 800m to 34 races dating back to late 2015‚ said she wanted to inspire girls from the rural areas.

“Sometimes‚ to be honest‚ if you always win‚ you run out of emotions‚ you don’t know how to express feelings‚ you don’t know how to celebrate.

“But it’s not about me anymore. It’s about the African girls who come from the rural areas who do not believe that they can do this . . . if you believe in yourself‚ anything is possible,” she said.

This was the first step to attempting the double again at the world championships in Doha next year and even at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

“It would be great if I could repeat this at the world champs‚ in the Olympics‚” said Semenya‚ who took the 1 500m in London last year.

Brakpan boykie Martin Erasmus won South Africa’s first Commonwealth Games wrestling gold in 60 years as he tossed his 97kg opponents around like a salad.

He won all four of his fights by technical superiority – his sport’s version of a knockout – including the final against India’s Mausam Khatri‚ his conqueror at the Commonwealth wrestling championships late last year.

“He was tough‚” Erasmus said.

In the semifinals he dispensed of Canada’s Jordan Steen‚ leaving him with an injury that required him to get his head bandaged.

“I just wrestled with my head straight‚” Erasmus explained.

At the Cardiff Games in 1958‚ South African wrestlers won six of the nine titles on offer.

But the sport in South Africa has been in a slump since then‚ picking up only the occasional minor gong in this millennium.

Hanru Botha won the 74kg silver for South Africa on Thursday.

Erasmus‚ who was taught to wrestle by his father, Rassie, from the age of three‚ wasn’t overly fazed by the significance of his victory.

“No‚ I didn’t expect gold. I took it match by match and then succeeded‚” he said.

Erasmus‚ a car parts salesman‚ has no competitors in his weight category at the national championships because‚ according to one of his teammates‚ he’s too good – his opponents either go up to the next division or they drop down in weight.

– TimesLIVE