The week before the Doha Diamond League was deeply difficult for Caster Semenya. In Sean Ingle’s detailed behind the scene feature, on the CAS decision, no matter what side you find yourself on, there is sympathy for Ms. Semenya. The emotional price in the week before the IAAF vs Caster Semenya decision by CAS.
Just prior the meet, and less than 8 days before the new IAAF rules go into effect, Caste Semenya entered the 800m in Doha. Many would have just been impressed if she had finished the race, but Caster ran a 1:54.98 world leader. Here is how Stuart Weir saw it from his seats in Doha.
Caster Semenya with media, post 1:54.98 WL, photo by Stuart Weir
With everything going on this week, it would have been totally understandable had Caster Semenya decided to remain at home. However, she came to Doha and showed that she is both a magnificent athlete and a wonderful human being. It was a fast 800m race with Raevyn Rogers’ 1:59.07 only good enough for fifth. Francine Niyonsaba was second in 1:57.75 and Ajee Wilson third in 1:58.83 – commendable times early in what will be a long season. But Caster won the race in 1:54.98, close to three seconds ahead of second place. Then Caster spent time answering questions for TV, for radio, for written press, for everyone with a good grace.
She told the event media team: “I’m excited winning here in Doha. The first race of the season is tough and you may not be able to predict how your body is going to respond to the push but the weather is great and it was wonderful tonight. For me, I believe nothing is hard in life because it is up to you how you take life.
“As an athlete, I believe in sportmanship and what sports teaches you is to keep pushing on despite all odds. I know life could be difficult at times but I’m a believer and I believe there is always a way to resolve issues. One of my firm beliefs is that there is always a way out for everything. So if a wall is placed in front of me, I jump it. I’m going to keep enjoying my life and live it. I will keep on training and running. To me, impossibility is nothing”.
In the mixed zone she was surrounded by media, some of whom had flown 6 hours or more only after she was added to the line-up, she said: “I thought it was an amazing race. You open up with 5Ks and then you run 1:54. I think we have done a lot of hard work. It’s all about changing the pace. The second lap was good so we are happy with where we are now”.
Caster Semena speaks with the Media post Doha win, photo by Stuart Weir
Asked where her next race would be, she replied: “I have not decided anything about racing. We got what we wanted. Now we just have to go back and work hard and then pick the races we want to run”. She also clarified that the 5000m she had run was just “part of my base. It was just about my tempo run, to see how fast I can run in front to help me to run a consistent pace at 800m”. On the question of whether she would take the medication required, she replied “I don’t know”.
Her comment to BBC, revealed an athlete at peace in the midst of the storm. She said: “It’s up to God, God has decided my life, God will end my life, God has decided my career, God will end my career. No man, or any other human, can stop me from running.”
Dina Asher-Smith spoke for a lot of athletes when she said: “Caster is a good friend of many of us on the circuit and it is always good to have her around. She has got such a great spirit”.
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