Caster Semenya. Picture: GALLO IMAGES
Caster Semenya. Picture: GALLO IMAGES

Caster Semenya says her looming court battle against the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) is not for herself but rather is a fight for future generations of runners.

But the two-time Olympic 800m champion said she also wanted to irk the world governing body of athletics.

Semenya is contesting the planned rules the IAAF wants to impose on athletes with hyperandrogenism‚ demanding those competing in all events from 400m to the mile — the events Semenya happens to do — take medication to lower naturally high levels of testosterone.

Speaking at the Discovery Leadership Summit in Johannesburg on Thursday‚ Semenya‚ in conversation with broadcast journalist Redi Tlhabi‚ said: "To be honest‚ this is no longer about me, I’ve achieved everything I want in life. I’m world champ‚ I’m Commonwealth champion‚ I’m African champ.

"I was sitting at home thinking I can’t let this thing go on. What about the future generations? It’s killing them. What about those young girls that still want to run who have the same situation as mine? That means their dreams are shattered.

"Someone has to do something about it, so I just called my team: ‘Look‚ I think we need to fight this thing‚ enough is enough’," she said.

Semenya said initially she was not fazed by the new rules‚ which were to kick in on November 1 but have been delayed by the IAAF until March 2019 before the matter is heard at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Switzerland.

"I’m a talented athlete‚" she said. "What I wanted to do was piss them off a bit. Sorry about that‚ that’s how I am. I wanted to show them that what they’re doing doesn’t make sense because once you start classifying women‚ it’s a problem."

She joked that she could avoid the IAAF regulations by switching to the 100m and 200m. "Okay‚ I’m going to move to sprints‚ so … see what you can do about it‚" she said.

"Then I’ll confuse you again and go back to long distance. That’s what they say — confuse your enemy."

The IAAF’s rules on hyperandrogenism‚ initially covering all events‚ were suspended after Indian sprinter Dutee Chand took the governing body to the CAS in 2015.

Semenya also said she was unfazed by the unfriendly behaviour of some fellow
athletes. Tlhabi recalled one incident where Semenya tried to shake the hand of a beaten rival‚ but her hand was slapped away.

"You’ve got to understand that on the track it’s a temporary feeling … everyone wants to win. My advice is don’t take it personally. There are races where you beat me‚ I never had a problem. At that moment you’re still angry that you could have done better. I understand‚ I’m human‚ I studied psychology. I understand how a human operates‚ but after a few minutes that feeling is gone," Semenya said.

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