Caster Semenya

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Caster Semenya laments lack of support, hints at trying other sports

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South African runner Caster Semenya emphatically said Wednesday she does not plan to retire despite a ruling that she cannot compete in the near future.

In an interview from a women’s conference live-streamed by South African news organization Eyewitness News, Semenya gave two different career timelines, saying she may run until she’s about 35 but also saying she have 10 more years left, which would make her 38 upon retirement.

“I might be stopped from running now, but it’s just a temporary thing,” Semenya said. 

Semenya also spoke about empowering women, something she says other women have not done for her in her career.

If you want to empower women, it starts first amongst us,” Semenya said. “I always have this question about what is it we are doing to empower other women. Do we support them just by saying it, or do we support them physically or emotionally? 

Since I’ve been in sports, I’ve never really felt really supported. I’ve never felt recognized, mostly by women.” 

Semenya has dominated the 800-meter run for a decade, winning Olympic gold medals in 2012 and 2016 — the first when Russian runner Mariya Savinova failed a doping test — along with three world championships. But she has also been the focal point of an ethical and medical debate about allowing athletes with XY chromosomes to compete with women who have the more common XX pairing.

A few such questions have arisen over the years — most notably with Russian track and field athletes Tamara and Irina Press, who stopped competing when gender testing became mandatory — but Semenya’s case has prompted a large-scale discussion of how to allow athletes to compete while ensuring XX athletes have a chance to succeed.

The IAAF, track and field’s organizing body, decreed in 2018 that Semenya must take testosterone suppressants in order to compete. The Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld the rule in May, but Semenya took the rarely successful route of appealing the decision to Swiss courts. One court ordered the IAAF to suspend its rule, but a Swiss Federal Supreme Court judge overruled that decision, leaving Semenya unable to compete without undergoing testosterone treatment.

In Wednesday’s interview, Semenya playfully mused about other careers she might have taken, specifically a soldier or a spy, and suggested she might go back to playing soccer as she did in her youth. She also expressed an interest in rugby and cricket, two sports in which South Africa is a global power on the men’s side but less successful in women’s competition.

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Caster Semenya can no longer compete during appeal

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Caster Semenya can no longer compete In her best events while she appeals a Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruling that upheld the IAAF’s new rule that bars her.

On Monday, a Swiss Federal Supreme Court judge reversed prior rulings that had temporarily suspended the IAAF rule for Semenya only while she appealed the CAS ruling.

Monday’s decision has no impact on Semenya’s appeal itself, but the two-time Olympic 800m champion can no longer compete in events between the 400m and mile as she was allowed to do in June and July.

The Swiss court reasoned that it has limited power of review, “is by no means a Supreme Court for Sports” and that, on that basis, “Semenya’s appeal does not appear with high probability to be well founded.”

Though world championships in Doha are not for another two months, Semenya is already saying she will not defend her title from 2017.

“This will not deter me from continuing my fight for the human rights of all of the female athletes concerned,” she said in a statement.

A release from Semenya’s team stated that the Swiss Supreme Court “emphasized the strict requirements and high thresholds for the interim suspension of CAS awards and found that these were not fulfilled.”

The IAAF rule that Semenya is trying to strike would bar 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 May 30.

“First chapter of my life done, looking forward to my second chapter,” Semenya tweeted earlier Tuesday.

The IAAF said it will continue to maintain that, ‘There are some contexts, sport being one of them, where biology has to trump gender identity, which is why the IAAF believes (and the CAS agreed) that the DSD Regulations are a necessary, reasonable and proportionate means of protecting fair and meaningful competition in elite female athletics.”

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Christian Coleman beats Justin Gatlin for the first time; Pre Classic recap

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Christian Coleman used to look up to Justin Gatlin, a fellow former University of Tennessee athlete. But now it’s Coleman who is firmly atop U.S. and world sprinting, consolidating fastest man status by beating the world champion Gatlin for the first time at the Pre Classic on Sunday.

Coleman clocked 9.81 seconds with a trace of headwind, lowering his fastest time in the world this year from 9.85. Gatlin, 37, was strong to take second in 9.87, his first sub-10 since becoming the oldest world champ in 2017, his fastest time since winning the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials and the fastest ever for somebody that old.

“I ask that same question every day I wake up and my muscles hurt,” Gatlin said of defying age. “I get out of bed and am like, how am I doing this? I have a goal set, and I want to go ’til 2020. I want to take my son to the Olympics, at that’ll be the end of my show.”

Coleman is the only man in the world to break 9.85 seconds in 2017, 2018 or 2019, doing so all three years in this Olympic cycle. Quite a rise for a man who was sixth at the Rio Olympic trials.

“Obviously we’re friends,” Coleman said of Gatlin in an interview with Lewis Johnson on NBC. “I’m just happy I’m able to compete against somebody like him.”

The Pre Classic relocated to Stanford, Calif., from its usual home in Eugene, Ore., while Hayward Field undergoes reconstruction ahead of the 2020 Olympic Trials.

Full Pre Classic results are here. The Diamond Leagues moves to Lausanne, Switzerland, for its next meet Friday, featuring Noah Lyles in the 200m. Athletes are preparing for the USATF Outdoor Championships in three weeks, when the top three per event are in line to make the team for the September/October world championships in Doha.

In other events Sunday, Caster Semenya won her 31st straight 800m dating to 2015, clocking 1:55.70 to prevail by a hefty 2.66 seconds over American record holder Ajeé Wilson.

The two-time Olympic champion from South Africa was allowed to race by the Swiss Supreme Court, which ordered her temporarily eligible while she appeals a Court of Arbitration for Sport decision upholding the IAAF’s rule capping testosterone in female events between the 400m and mile.

Semenya was asked whether she thought about going for the 35-year-old world record of 1:53.28 or whether she considered the fact it could be her last 800m given the court’s looming decision. “Not really,” was her response to both questions.

“Flying into the U.S., it’s not easy to run here,” Semenya said. “Other people’s perceptions is not my problem. My problem is to have my shit together.”

Wilson, the world bronze medalist, was glad to see Semenya cleared to race.

“Absolutely I think she should be allowed to run,” she said. “I think everybody should be allowed to participate. The parameters surrounding that, I’m not sure about, but I definitely think she should be able to do what she wants.”

What’s next for Semenya is uncertain. She plans to take four weeks off before resuming her circuit, and will await the final ruling from the Swiss court.

Michael Norman extended an undefeated 400m streak dating to the start of 2018, clocking 44.62 against a field that lacked Olympic champions Wayde van NiekerkKirani James and LaShawn Merritt. Norman, who on April 20 clocked 43.45, said he was coming down with a bit of a cold.

Ivorian Marie-Josee Ta Lou upset two-time Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and NCAA champion Sha’Carri Richardson to win the 100m in 11.02. Fraser-Pryce ran 10.73 nine days earlier to become the fastest mom in history, while Richardson clocked 10.75 three weeks ago for a world junior record.

Nigerian Blessing Okagbare upset the Olympic, world, European and U.S. champions in the 200m in 22.05. Rio gold medalist Elaine Thompson, who was second, remains fastest in the world this year in 22.00.

Rai Benjamin recorded the ninth-fastest 400m hurdles ever, 47.16. Benjamin, who switched representation from Antigua and Barbuda to the U.S. last year, knocked absent Qatari rival Abderrahman Samba (47.27) off the top of the 2019 world rankings.

Kenyan Beatrice Chepkoech ran the fifth-fastest 3000m steeplechase in history. She crossed in 8:55.58, which was 11.26 seconds off her world record from 2018. World champion Emma Coburn showed she’s again a medal contender, beating the other three fastest Kenyans in history for second place in 9:04.90 despite falling in a race for the third time this year.

Vashti Cunningham, the Olympian daughter of retired All Pro quarterback Randall Cunningham, became the eighth U.S. woman to clear two meters in the high jump. But she fell to 0-8 in her career against Russian Mariya Lasitskene, who cleared 2.04.

Olympic champion Faith Kipyegon sprinted past Laura Muir to win the 1500m in her first race since Sept. 1, 2017, following childbirth. Kipyegon clocked 3:59.04, edging Muir by .43 and U.S. champion Shelby Houlihan by .61.

Louisiana-born Swede Mondo Duplantis won in his second pole vault competition since turning pro after his freshman year at LSU. Duplantis cleared 5.93 meters to hand world champion Sam Kendricks his first loss in four Diamond League meets this season.

Ethiopian-born Dutchwoman Sifan Hassan ran the sixth-fastest women’s 3000m in history in 8:18.49. The time was bettered only by three dubious Chinese athletes between two days in Beijing in September 1993 in the non-Olympic event.

Olympic champ Ryan Crouser was upset in the shot put by Brazilian Darlan Romani who launched 22.61 meters for the best throw in Diamond League history.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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