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Caster Semenya Keeps Her Head When Some About Her are Losing Theirs

According to Christopher Harley of the New York Times, there is a school of thought at the Olympics “that it can be better for an athlete’s profile and even their bottom line to lose memorably – however unintentionally – than to win routinely.”

For example, he says, at the 1992 Barcelona games, the British runner Derek Redmond would not be embedded in our collective memory if he had won his 400-meter semi-final instead of tearing his hamstring and insisting on finishing his race as his father assisted.

Over the weekend, two British athletes made their loss memorable, but not in the Redmond-way.

Immediately after the women’s 800-meter race over the weekend, Lynsey Sharp of Team Great Britain, who had just finished sixth with a personal best, complained about her competition.

“I have tried to avoid the issue all year,” she said. “You can see how emotional it all was. We know how each other feels. It is out of our control and how much we rely on people at the top sorting it out. The public can see how difficult it is with the change of rule, but all we can do is give it our best.”

In a subtle manner, the British runner was referring to the gold medal winner of the race, Caster Semenya. However, her fellow Team GB athlete, Nigel Levine offered a more direct take. After the race, he tweeted, “happy for Lynsey Sharp for coming 3rd in women’s 800m,” as if suggesting that the winners including, Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi (silver) and Kenya’s Margaret Wambui (bronze) are not “women enough.”

Levine would receive a tweet from the South African politician Geordin Hill-Lewis saying: “A disgusting tweet. Shame on you. #HandsOffCaster.”

Meanwhile, Semenya chose not to discuss gender row. Instead, she talked about the binding qualities of the Olympics.

“I think sports are meant to unite people. I think that’s what we need to keep doing. It’s just fantastic.

“I think I make a difference. I mean a lot to my people. That was my main focus – just doing it for my people.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”It’s all about loving one another, it’s not about discriminating against people, it’s not about looking at how people look, how they speak, how they run.”[/perfectpullquote]

“It’s not about being more muscular; it’s all about sport. I think about performing. You do not think about what your opponent looks like; you just want to do better. The advice would be for everybody to go out and have fun.”

A classy response from the Olympic champion.


Photo Courtesy: Reuters

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