#HandsOffCaster: South Africans spring to defence of the athletic superstar
Star middle-distance runner Caster Semenya was at the top of Twitter’s trends list on Saturday, just days ahead of her 800m event at the Rio Olympic Games. The athlete’s woes began in 2009 when she was banned from competing after she won the 800m championship in Berlin.
Sports Illustrated caused a furore with an article entitled “Is it fair for Caster Semenya to compete against women at Rio?” which was published on Thursday. Many felt the article’s headline sought to ridicule Semenya and insinuated that she should compete against men.
— Clinton du Preez (@Cleintoon) August 13, 2016
— Kerry Oliver (@kerryo111) August 13, 2016
A discussion between journalists Malcolm Gladwell and Nicholas Thompson published in The New Yorker on Friday was also met with indignation.
When asked by Thompson whether he felt Semenya should be “allowed to compete as a woman”, Gladwell replied: “of course not”, adding that no track and field fan would disagree with him on that.
— Eusebius McKaiser (@Eusebius) August 13, 2016
“People need to understand that an athletic competition has to have rules; otherwise there can be no competition,” Gladwell said.
South Africans have pinned their hopes of the country getting Olympic gold on Semenya and wasted no time in declaring their unconditional support for the athlete.
— Karabo Masekwameng (@KaraboThea) August 13, 2016
#HandsOffCaster this is our golden girl…we are watching you…
— Ms Mashaakgomo (@mashkedi) August 13, 2016
— Jacky (@Fakazababy) August 13, 2016
A while back, though, this support was seemingly not widespread and the runner was often the subject of ridicule. Some had even conceded South Africa had previously not done enough to defend her.
#DearShwashwi: couples we don’t want 2 c in 2010 Julius Malema and Caster Semenya
— Sibs Macd (@SibsMacd) August 29, 2010
Just in 2009,high profile people defended Caster Semenya,a “girl”.Now we hear “she” married her girlfriend.Bizarre pic.twitter.com/P5fn3xkW93
— AK (@aloisAK) December 7, 2015
Looking at the Caster Semenya and I’m so gutted by the way South Africans are reacting, yet we have never even showed her support since 2009
— Orlando Pirates (@Fumadonsela) August 27, 2015
It was 2009, and I was too young and slept to understand how badly this country treated Caster Semenya about her gender.
Now I get all of it
— Gladiator (@Khanyi_T_) September 15, 2015