There has been a fiercely protective attitude South Africa towards Caster Semenya since her test results in 2009 were leaked to an Australian newspapers despite IAAF promises of confidentiality.
Australia’s Daily Telegraph quoted the test report as saying Semenya has internal testes but no ovaries or womb, and the IAAF secretary general Pierre Weiss added at the time: “She is a woman, but maybe not 100 percent”.
“I fear that when we talk about it in terms of fully expecting no other result than Semenya to win that 800m (at the Olympics), then it’s no longer sport and it’s no longer an open race,” former British world champion Paula Radcliffe said while commentating for the BBC at last month’s London Diamond League meeting.
Another former world champion, Ireland’s Sonia O’Sullivan, wrote in her newspaper column: “It’s through no fault of their own that these athletes have been born with more male genes and hormones than female; but this doesn’t mean they can simply be classified as women and allowed to take part in women’s events.”
South African sports minister Fikile Mbalula said South Africans would rally around Semenya in the face of probable criticism in Rio.
“Anything that seeks to undermine the standing of Caster I think is anti human rights and not worth promotion,” he said.
“For us it is not an issue,” added Athletics South Africa president Aleck Skhosana on any potential fallout.
“There is nothing to worry about.”
Semenya will battle for the 800m Olympic medal against Eunice Sum the former world 800m champion who has also sent warning signs to her by saying, ” i will give Semenya “a run for her money”, despite her impressive return to form in the Diamond League in Doha in April and show-stopping performance in Monaco earlier this month.
“People think nobody can stop her this year, but people are training,” Sum said. “We are training. We will give her a run for her money. Olympics are different from the (Diamond League) circuit.
Another Kenyan who will be making her second appearance on the senior international platform will be Margaret Wambui Nyairera , the world U20 champion from 2014, crossed the line in 1:56.64 but was later disqualified for a lane infringement.