cape town tour

Caster Semenya - the Usain Bolt that wasn't.

A name that is is becoming increasingly a household name at a global level is that of Caster Semenya.  Born poor, rural and deprived in the remote South African town of Polokwane (which is between Johannesburg to the south and Zimbabwe to the north), Caster originally began running to keep herself fit for football.  

It soon transpired that she was meant for greater things and went on to win race after race, coming to dominate at international level the women's 800m, 1200m and 1500m races.  However by 2009, she was winning by such a large margin (even against her own previous times) that in 2009 she was subjected by the IAAF to a 'gender test' (which she 'passed') but the results of which were never formally released.

There then followed many years (until 2012) of substantially reduced performance. Caster did not enter many races or events but in the 2012 Oylympics she came second only to Mariya Savinova of Russia in the 800m, who was subsequently banned for doping and Caster's medal was upgraded to gold.

Caster has since won gold in the 800m event and bronze in the 1200m event in London in 2017.  Thus whist Caster is a stellar athlete, she does not win every race she enters, and she isn't totally dominating all middle distance running events as has been claimed.

This year, 2018, the IAAF decided that it was going to force Caster to take medication to reduce her testosterone levels.  This is despite the fact that Dutee Chand, a female Indian athlete, also suffers from the condition hyperandrogenism, won a court case against the IAAF in 2015 on exactly this issue, because the court ruled that the IAAF was unable to prove that hyperandrogenism did necessarily benefit any athlete by any more than a tiny margin.

Added to this, the IAAF's ban applies only to the 400m, 800m and 1200m and does not include events in which white women (who are themselves potentially hyperandrogenous) dominate, such as hammer throwing.  The point has been made by many senior male athletes, including Michael Jordan, that no-one for a minute wants to test Usain Bolt for hyperandrogenism: all they want to do is test him for doping (and have found none).

As such, the case against Caster has become a touchstone for anyone who believes that black, poor, rural and lesbian women are deliberately being targeted by instutions like the IAAF which is largely populated by white, rich, urban and heterosexual males. 

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We’re an ethical private travel planning company focused on Southern Africa.

We offer ready-made and also customised holidays and journeys across this unique region of the world.

When our clients travel with us, they are assured that their travel spend is directly supporting local African companies that offer sustainable products and services, both in terms of people and planet.

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Our logo is an image of a skull found in the Rising Star Cave System in Gauteng, South Africa in 2013. It was named ‘homo naledi’, meaning ‘human of the stars’.

The cave system has so far given rise to the remains of over 15 individuals, making it the largest hominid fossil remains site ever discovered.

Travelling to Southern Africa is truly a return to the source of humankind, to Where It All Began.