HOT TOPICS: "I've never felt supported by female athletes," Caster Semenya. Is Caster Semenya right about female empowerment?

SAFRICA-ATHLETICS

South African athlete and double Olympic Champion, Caster Semenya, has spoken out about the lack of support she has received from fellow female competitors in her sport.

The 800m runner explained she has "never really felt very supported" by other female athletes, especially on the international stage.

She made the comments at The Top Women conference in Johannesburg, a conference focused on “the value and impact of women in leadership” where she was a headline speaker.  Speaking from her position as both Olympic athlete and the leader of the Caster Semenya Foundation, the double Olympic champion explained she had never felt love and support from other athletes.

“If you want to empower women, it’s first amongst us. I always have the question: ‘What is it that we are doing to empower other women?’ Do we support them just by saying it? Or do we support them physically or emotionally? For me, I think it starts with love. If we love one another, that will fulfil me.

“Since I’ve been in sports, I’ve never really felt supported, I’ve never really felt recognised, mostly by women,” she said.

The 28-year-old has faced a difficult year after being prevented by the IAAF from defending her world title in Doha this September. The athletics world governing body ruled earlier this year that women like Semenya, with differences of sexual development (DSD), would need to take testosterone suppressants to be eligible for certain track competitions, including the 800m.

Following two unsuccessful appeals, it remains unclear whether the South African athlete will be able to compete at the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympics to defend her Olympic title. 

Semenya has spoken previously about her resolute unwillingness to conform to the IAAF’s new rules as she perceives them as unethical, a stance supported by the World Medical Association. Yet, she remains firm in her desire to return to competing and has said she has at least another ten years left in her.

"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."

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