Caster Semenya ran his first public race in eight months and broke the national record for the 300 meters in a low level competition at a South African university before proclaiming: “I am here to stay”.
The Olympic 800-meter champion said Friday night’s race at the University of Johannesburg, which also included high school students, was her season opener.
“Athletics, you will always see my face,” Semenya said after winning the 300 race in 36.78 seconds. “That’s all I can say for now.”
This isn’t the first time Semenya has guaranteed a comeback.
The Olympics are only five months away and Semenya is unlikely to be able to defend her title in the 800 meters. But maybe she has another plan.
Semenya is currently banned from participating in her favorite event at major competitions, and at any distance from 400 meters to one mile, unless she abides by World Athletics rules that require her to medically reduce her natural testosterone levels. to participate in women’s competitions.
The regulation was designed for female athletes with differences in sexual development like Semenya and has been severely criticized.
Semenya, who turned 29 last month, has twice appealed against the settlement. She lost her first appeal at the highest court in sports. His second legal challenge to the Swiss Supreme Court is still under review. His chances of winning this second call are considered slim.
Semenya has repeatedly refused to adhere to testosterone regulations and his decision to open the Olympic year with a 300-meter run could be significant.
The rules do not apply to races under 400 meters and Semenya could compete in the 200 meters at the Olympics without having to reduce her hormone level.
Semenya did not indicate if this was her intention when she said her track career was not over. The South African has rarely run the 200 meters and her personal best is 24.26 seconds. Semenya is expected to improve that by nearly two seconds to reach the qualifying standard of 22.80 seconds for the Tokyo Olympics.
She has tried distances longer than the mile in the past with limited success.
Semenya’s last appearance on the track was in June of last year when she won an 800-meter race at the Prefontaine Classic in the United States. Athletics’ new testosterone regulations then came into effect and prevented her from running the 800, a distance where she had become completely dominant. Semenya is a two-time Olympic champion and three-time world champion over two rounds and has won 31 consecutive races. She was unable to defend her title at the world championships last year because of the rule.
The South African has become one of track and field’s best-known athletes since winning the world title in 2009 at the age of 18. world athletics body.
Semenya is the most prominent but not the only elite female athlete with a difference in sexual development. Court documents indicate that she was born with the typical male XY chromosome pattern, but also female traits. She has been legally identified as a woman her entire life, but World Athletics considers her “biologically masculine,” a description she angrily opposed in what has become an uphill battle.
Semenya’s story has presented athletics, and perhaps the sport in general, with one of its most difficult and controversial puzzles and the debate has raged for over a decade. In essence, World Athletics claims that her high testosterone level gives her an unfair athletic advantage over other female runners. Semenya says it is a natural genetic gift.
In the midst of the battle with the trail authorities, Semenya has occasionally given puzzling messages regarding his future.
Last year she joined a soccer team in Johannesburg and announced that she would play for them in the 2020 season. It seemed to suggest that she was ready to give up athletics, but she denied it, claiming that she could be a soccer player and a runner.