Semenya faces backlash after competitors have their say
Caster Semenya will have to contend with a growing backlash from her beaten opponents, with the British runner Jemma Simpson the latest to raise her concerns while another opponent said the field were “literally running against a man”.other Updated: Aug 24, 2010 00:37 IST
Caster Semenya will have to contend with a growing backlash from her beaten opponents, with the British runner Jemma Simpson the latest to raise her concerns while another opponent said the field were “literally running against a man”.
Simpson, who finished fourth as Semenya stormed to victory in the 800m in Berlin on Sunday night, admitted her frustration at competing against the South African teenager.
Semenya was competing in her third competitive 800m race since she was cleared to resume competition, following an 11-month absence from the sport when she had been ordered to undergo gender verification tests.
But she showed little sign of rustiness, or of any side effects from a reported course of hormone treatment, as she bridged a gap of 20 metres on the home straight to defeat the American Christin Wurth-Thomas in 1min 59.90 secs.
“It’s obviously a human rights issue but human rights affect everyone in the race, not just one person,” Simpson said. “The rest of the field just gets ignored.
“No way is it a personal issue but it’s a debate about what is right and fair for everyone. It’s a really tough subject and a lot of people are very careful about what they say. You have to be.
“You have to be diplomatic and keep your opinions to yourself but sometimes it is so frustrating.”
Canada’s Diane Cummins, who was eighth in Sunday’s race, was less guarded.
“As athletes we feel frustrated because everyone is allowed to give their opinion except us,” Cummins said. “If we give an honest opinion, we’re either seen as bad sports or we’re not happy because we’re being beaten.
“But that’s not the case. Jemma and I have been beaten tons of times by athletes who we feel are doing it in the realm of what is considered female.
“Unfortunately for Caster, she’s grown up in an environment that is complicated not just for her but for human science. Basically, is she man, is she lady? What constitutes male, what constitutes female?”
“Even if she is a female, she’s on the very fringe of the normal athlete female biological composition from what I understand of hormone testing. So, from that perspective, most of us just feel that we are literally running against a man.”
Cummins added: “It is certainly frustrating to be running against someone who seems to be doing it effortlessly.
“We all believe that Caster Semenya, pushed to her full potential, could break the world record.
“That’s 1.53, and that’s what college guys are running. From that perspective, she’s far superior to any female 800m runner we’ve ever had.”