CASTER SEMENYA has admitted her first encounter with her now-wife was more than a little awkward because she mistook her for a boy.
The South African won bronze in the 1500m last night at the World Athletics Championships, beating Team GB’s Laura Muir by the finest of margins.
Semenya is hoping to go two steps further in the 800m, her preferred event, which gets underway on Thursday.
But irrespective of whether she wins or not, the 26-year-old will continue to be dogged by controversy over her gender status.
Semenya has hyperandrogenism, meaning she has excessive levels of testosterone in her body, which some of her detractors claim gives her an unfair advantage over her opponents.
She came under scrutiny from athletics authorities after wining 800m gold at the 2009 World Athletics Championships in Berlin.
The IAAF requested a gender test and the eventual results cleared her to race again in 2010.
Semenya now has five global medals to her name, including two Olympic titles, but has admitted that even in her personal life, her rare condition has been something of a hindrance.
When she first met her spouse 10 years ago, Violet asked her what she was doing in the women’s bathroom.
“She was a runner and was being escorted by doping officials,” Semenya told South African TV station BET.
“She thought I was a boy and said, ‘What is a boy doing in here?’
“I said ‘I’m not a boy. You think I’m lost? You think I can just walk in here?’.”
After a rocky start, a relationship between the two took time to materialise as Violet was in a heterosexual relationship and “still in denial” over her true feelings.
But Semenya says she has always been sure of her homosexuality from an early age.
“I always felt a bit different,” Semenya added.
“When I’m with boys I feel comfortable. When I’m with girls I catch feelings.
“It’s not anything I can control. Today I’m a powerhouse.
“[My critics] know I’m lesbian. They build you even if they think they are destroying you.
“I know how I look like. I know how I sound.
“I know how I walk. I’m just gonna be me. I do me and you do you.”