Caster Semenya was the strong favourite heading into Saturday’s women’s 800m final at the 2016 Olympic Games - and the South African didn’t disappoint.
Crossing the finish line in a time of 1min 55.28sec, the 25-year-old set a personal best - and a new South African national record - as she claimed the gold medal.
However, Semenya continues to face questions over whether she should be allowed to run as a woman.
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Since her triumph at the 2009 World Championships as an 18-year-old, Semenya has raised concerns that her participating in women’s race events might be unfair on her opponents.
Diagnosed with hyperandrogenism, which means her testosterone levels are far in excess of most other women, Semenya appears to possess a significant advantage over the majority of her rivals.
Controversy over Semenya and others
She spent 11 months out while tests were conducted before being given the green light to compete in 2010.
Regulations introduced in 2011 required female athletes to take medication to lower testosterone if their natural levels were above a certain mark, but this was suspended for two years last July.
During the weekend’s 800m final, two other competitors who have faced similar issues - Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi and Kenya's Margaret Nyairera Wambui - took the silver and bronze medals, respectively.
Lynsey Sharp struggles to hold back the tears
In sixth place was Team GB’s Lynsey Sharp, who struggled to hold back the tears while discussing if the participation of runners like Semenya was unfair on her and others.
“I have tried to avoid the issue all year," Sharp, per the Mirror, commented after her dream of winning an Olympic medal had just ended. "You can see how emotional it all was. We know how each other feels [about the rule change].
"It is out of our control and how much we rely on people at the top sorting it out. The public can see how difficult it is with the change of rule but all we can do is give it our best."
However, the Scottish runner still managed to set a personal best of 1:57.69 and managed to see the positives from her own performance.
“I was coming down the home straight - we were not far away and you can see how close it is," the 26-year-old continued. "That is encouraging. We will work hard and aim to come back even stronger.”
After the race, Sharp embraced with Melissa Bishop of Canada and Poland’s Joanna Jozwik, and she hinted that her fellow competitors feel the same about the challenges of competing in the same race as Semenya.
“We see each other week in, week out, so we know how each other feel," she added.
Should Caster Semenya be allowed to compete in women’s events? Have your say by leaving a comment below.
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