Caster Semenya plans to play competitive soccer next year. Whether she races on the track again is unknown.
Semenya, the two-time Olympic 800m champion, said she signed with a South African club with the intent to play competitive matches in 2020. She played the sport in her youth before becoming a world champion in 2009 at age 18.
“I am looking forward to this new journey, and hopefully I can contribute as much as I can to the club,” she said, according to a press release.
Semenya made this move after a Swiss court ruled in late July that she can’t race in her best events while she appeals a Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) decision that upheld the IAAF’s new rule that bars her. Semenya took that ruling to mean that she won’t be able to defend her world title in Doha in three weeks.
“This will not deter me from continuing my fight for the human rights of all of the female athletes concerned,” she said in a July 30 statement.
The IAAF rule that Semenya is trying to strike bars her from races between 400m and the mile unless she takes testosterone-suppressing measures, under which she would be allowed to return to those distances after six months. Semenya refuses to take those measures.
Semenya first appealed to CAS, which on May 1 ruled in favor of the IAAF. Semenya then appealed the CAS decision to the Swiss Supreme Court, which at first allowed her, but not others with her condition of difference of sexual development (DSD), to compete pending the appeal’s outcome.
Semenya has won 31 straight 800m races dating to 2015. All three Rio Olympic 800m medalists have said they are affected by the new rule. Semenya raced once while the Swiss Supreme Court allowed her to, winning the Pre Classic on June 30.
“First chapter of my life done, looking forward to my second chapter,” Semenya tweeted on July 30.
Semenya intimated her move to soccer earlier this week with Instagram posts of a soccer ball, kit and cleats.
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