Caster Semenya


Born: 7 January 1991
Birthplace: Ga-Masehlong, Limpopo, South Africa
Best known as: The woman South African runner who was accused of being a man

Name at birth: Mokgadi Caster Semenya

Caster Semenya was a teenage runner from a small village in South Africa when she became the center of an international brouhaha about her gender in 2009. That year sprinted out of obscurity to win the women's 800 meters at the world track and field championships in Berlin. She did more than win: her time of 1:55:45 was more than two seconds better than the rest of the field. Her dominance, and her muscular and seemingly masculine physique, led the International Association of Athletics Federations to insist that she take both drug and gender tests. This set off the great "gender row," as the press called it, with some people insisting that Semenya must be a man while others insisted that gender testing was wrong and insulting. After nearly a year of testing and deliberation, an IAAF panel declared in July of 2010 that Caster Semenya would keep her world championship and could compete as a woman. The results of the IAAF gender test have never been made public, but as The Guardian later noted, "it was widely reported that Semenya had both male and female sex organs and testosterone levels three times higher than typically found in a woman." In 2012 she made the South African women's Olympic team, running the 800 meters.

Extra credit:

Caster Semenya is 5’10” tall (178 cm) and weighs 161 pounds (76 kg) according to her profile on the official site of the 2012 Olympics… Caster Semenya’s 1991 birth certificate from South Africa states that she is female… Semenya’s case is reminiscent of another Olympic runner, Stella “The Fella” Walsh… Many sources list her city of birth as Pietersburg or Polokwane; Pietersburg was a larger town near her village of Ga-Masehlong, and its name was later changed to Polokwane.

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