Africa News blog

African business, politics and lifestyle

How will South Africa reward Caster’s triumph???

August 25, 2009

South Africa ’s  Caster Semenya returned home today following her 800m gold medal-win at the  World Athletics Championships in Berlin .

She was greeted by headlines from the country’s newspapers, expressing collective  national pride for her achievement.  “Welcome home, Caster, our champ. Caster, this nation is proud of you and we stand behind you, from Cape Town to Musina.”, screamed  the Johannesburg-based The Times Newspaper.

Her achievement should give hope to those South Africans in the far flung and unnoticed rural areas who want to be top achievers that they too can be champions.  Caster, who was born in a small village of Ga-Masehlong , has overcome a number of obstacles  in getting to where she is today -  hopefully her triumph will inspire her country to honour her.

There have been calls for government to rename the new South African public transport system, the Bus Rapid Transit System (BRT), after her.  A lot is also expected from corporate South African to offer her incentives and rewards for making her country proud in Berlin .

There  is talk in some quarters that the great honour for Caster should come from President Jacob Zuma, who has promised to fight poverty and improve the lives of all South Africans. They say Zuma should ensure that Caster is removed from poverty. The state should see to it that Caster receives some monetary  reward for her achievement.

Afterall,  it would not be the first time that excellence is rewarded with money. In neighbouring Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe awarded $100,000 to Zimbabwean Kirsty Coventry for winning a gold medal at Beijing Olympics swimming events.

Caster deserves something from this nation,  and as The Times summed it up: “Her achievement is the greatest single sporting achievement by South African women on track, and it might be the greatest ever in all disciplines.”

Is a  handshake from the president and applause from South Africans enough for  South Africa ’s newest sporting heroine?


Seeing as there are some serious questions about the actual sex of this athlete, wouldnt it be a good idea to hold off on celebrations and honors?Personally, it certinaly appears this person is male, or has some very strong male attributes, especially seen when standing beside the other runners in the race. (none of which are under a cloud of suspicion)As a Canadian, with Ben Johnson experience, I can attest to the fact that patience, while the medical community does it’s thing, is prudent. Not to belittle the win, but…Kirk

Posted by kirk | Report as abusive

Why does “she” have to be a “he”? Why not think anabolic steroid abuse like those used by Ekkart Arbeit with his East German women of the 70′s and 80′s that produced women that looked like men and had little if any body fat (no breasts), thickening of the jaw line, deep voice, etc.. South Africa has one of the highest levels of HIV infected people in the world (reportedly infecting ~20% of its population and anabolic steroids are routinely used to treat HIV patients to prolong their lives. Thus the source is readily and easily available. Even in America during the famed baseball “live ball” home run era steroid abuse was a common and hidden in epidemic proportions. In the early 80′s I attended the local town public gym in a middle class American town. One of the muscle heads at the gym was a lawyer working for a major American corporation. His passion and pride was his amateur body building accomplishments that women loved. After spotting for the struggling stick man (me) many times we became acquainted enough that we started partying and hanging out on weekends (even muscle heads need wingmen). Cut to the chase; in his cabinet were assorted anabolic steroids which he claimed he used to “recover”. What they did do was eliminate body fat (Caster Semenya?) and helped develop incredible muscle mass and cuts. What was really scary was his revelation that the steroids were easily imported from Mexico (which he did) and that a fair percentage of the corn fed beef future college football high school stars practicing at the gym were routinely doing steroids to develop neck sizes and muscle mass that made them look like the amazing hulk. The lawyer showed me the “bible” all the muscle heads were doing and explained that it was so easy it was inevitable given the fame, glory and money associated with being #1. Now here’s the end of the story…five years later the same guy developed diabetes, kidney problems, liver problems and had to give up body building and ended up looking painfully thin, pale and perpetually sick. He also got fired after having a ‘roid rage fueld confrontation/incident with a new boss who happened to be a feminist lawyer who didn’t appreciate his swagger or his macho attitude. In the end the short term gain with the steroids cost him dearly. It is not worth it whether your last name is Joiner or Bonds. Given Ms. Caster Semenya tested for 3X male testosterone you have to beg the question…was it the Balco clear?

Posted by NonSteroid User | Report as abusive

Caster we at want to let you know how much we are routing for you and want you to know you have friends here in the US. What you did in Berlin was great and don’t let anyone take that away from you. You proved against all odds that an athlete could be fast, strong, powerful and still be a woman. Wish more black women would follow suit and bring out their God given gift in sports. We take great pride in knowing you are one of us and while we are at worlds apart we continue to have you in our prayer that this nightmare will be over. Your excellence and greatness has inspired us all!!


CASTER we want you to know that all ETHIOPIANS are on your side – You are the new CHAMPION of Africa – Proud of you sis..BRAVO

Posted by Iyassu Berhe | Report as abusive

If the tests aren’t done, then she will never be recognised for what appears to be a remarkable achievement, and always suspected of being a man. But let’s face it, it must be humiliating for her that people think she’s a man. It would be nice to see some signs of sympathy and sensitivity, rather than outrage on one side and the blunt and rude approach by the skeptics.

Posted by Geoff | Report as abusive

“When” the tests reveal that Caster is female, she must sue the responsible authorities and the media; for all the pain that they have inflicted upon her and her family. How dare they (the authorities) question God’s creation. Miss Semenya was naturally born as a female, and she has a birth certificate to prove it. She was not “engineered” in a test tube according to male specifications, and then placed inside her mother’s woumb. The mother gave birth to a baby girl who was conceived after having good old fashioned sex with her husband! For crying out loud!

Posted by Ghirma | Report as abusive

Caster, you are a beautiful young woman who will succeed at anything you want to in life. Don’t let these morons in this world define you on the inside or on the outside.And to the morons of this world who are trying to take her down. SHAME ON YOU!!! You lack integrity and ethics – this is a teenage girl – how dare you attack her and her sexual being like this. This is abusive and absolutely intolerable. She is not a man and she doesn’t have a womb it is absolutely none of your business nor mine- and what now – you want to take away her great accomplishments as a athlete and human being by stripping her bare before the world.This world thrives and hungers for the sensationalism of a story like this regardless of the costs to an innocent young woman. It disgusts me to see how heartless and souless the human race is when attempting to take down an innocent 18 year old girl/woman. You heard me GIRL – WOMAN – THIS IS HOW SHE HAS LIVED HER WHOLE LIFE AND THIS IS WHO SHE ISYou people don’t define this planet and its inhabitants. And I can’t wait for the day when what goes around comes back around unto you. And I can only hope it comes back with the same vengance in which you have dished it out.

Posted by Staci | Report as abusive

Caster should actually sue the ANC cronies and the brain-dead stooges of the ANCYL who have put “her” in a position to be humiliated.The person is not a woman and as such should not be allowed to compete as a woman__end of the story! I hope that everybody that claimed that they will never accept the medical findings would be mature enough and humble enough to admit that they were wrong,,,,but I suppose that to ask the mountain to,,,,

Posted by Thom | Report as abusive

Very thoughtfull post on achievements. It should be very much helpfullThanks,Karim – Positive thinking

Posted by Karim | Report as abusive

Semenya saga has brought forth the issue of gender, so who is a woman and who is a man? Well physical observation may not really give an instant answer but tedious medical examination may open the bandora box.From the looks Semenya qualifies to become a man, the physique and a deep voice and hairy body is basic characteristics of a man. But it was wrong for the South Africa sports body to enter her/him in the race knowing very well that the athlete gender wasnt clear. I think the athletics officials set up the athlete for embarrassment. Anyway i symapthize for the girl/boy.

Posted by Thomas | Report as abusive

@NonSeroid User,I wouldn’t be surprised if Caster’s problem was a case of anabolic steroid abuse. Some 8 years ago I heard that Athletics South Africa engaged Dr Arbeit, who is still headcoach with ASA. Dr Arbeit’s credentials as doping expert during the cold war aera are well known.

Posted by Klaus in RSA | Report as abusive

it looks like we have invented our own set of morals – chuene’s justification of his violation of caster’s dignity resembles lots of our “end justifies the means” ethics you see in every day SA in recent history. you do not have to be a serial pessimist to speculate that even satan himself could look holier among us given our freaky moral standards.Hope we are not degerating into some hellish banana country.

Posted by chippa | Report as abusive

caster should be given a brand new house by the federal govenment. Also put on a fed pay check that will sustain her and her family for life. They could be more but let the authority starts with the basics first.

Posted by okey chika | Report as abusive

Nothing in life is for free, chika. Yes, the person was offended and traumatized by the corruption of others, but why not give her rather a job and the education/”skills” by which she can make her own way through life.Does a sports career realy fulfill a functional role in society rather than just entertainment and to give (hollow) prestige to the represented country and sponsors?In the aftermath was it really a good idea?Its funny to observe how opinions were snubbed as the truth became known.

Posted by Anon | Report as abusive

Post Your Comment

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see