Games champion Caster Semenya says she wanted to perform to thank Winnie Madikizela-Mandela
Caster Semenya has dedicated her golden double at the Commonwealth Games to Winnie Madikizela-Mandela‚ saying she and Nelson Mandela had ignited a fire in Semenya.
She won the 800m in Australia’s Gold Coast on Friday to add to the 1500m title she claimed earlier in the week.
"We were very close‚" said Semenya. I was just sad when I heard the news but I didn’t want to concentrate on that a lot. I just wanted to perform for her to show that appreciation."
Semenya obliged in fine style‚ winning both events in Games records‚ also breaking Zola Budd’s 34-year-old national mark in the 1500m
"I really appreciate what she [Madikizela-Mandela] has done for us as South Africans‚ so may her soul rest in peace."
Semenya said Madikizela-Mandela’s message to her had been to love and appreciate herself.
"That’s the only thing these great leaders will tell you — the same as the late uTata Nelson Mandela told me‚ I’m a great athlete‚ I just need to lead by example.
"I must go out there and show the world what we are made of. We are South African‚ we are a great nation. Never be fooled by the noise. Silence is the best response to a fool. That’s what they told me."
Semenya has lived by that motto‚ not responding to critics vocal on the gender issue and continuing to perform on the track.
A case that could affect transgender athletes has been before the court of arbitration in Switzerland for a few years‚ but the middle-distance star has remained quiet on the matter.
Of Mandela and Madikizela-Mandela she said: "I’m showing wherever they are looking down‚ they know they planted a seed in me that created this fire in me. I just carried on living the legacy."
The Olympic and world 800m champion‚ who has now stretched her unbeaten streak in the 800m to 34 races dating back to late 2015‚ said she wanted to inspire girls from rural areas.
"Sometimes‚ to be honest‚ if you always win‚ you run out of emotions‚ you don’t know how to express feelings‚ you don’t know how to celebrate.
"But it’s not about me anymore. It’s about the African girls who come from the rural areas who do not believe that they can do this. If you believe in yourself‚ anything is possible. "
Semenya is attempting the double again at the world championships in Doha in 2019‚ and at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
"It would be great if I could repeat this at the world champs‚ in the Olympics‚" said Semenya‚ who took the 1500m in London in 2017.
"Maybe I would be more emotional. This is the first step to the world champs‚ and the Olympics."