After watching their daughter take the gold medal for South Africa in the World Championships 800 metres, Caster Semenya’s family should have spent today basking in the reflected glory of their offspring.
Instead they found themselves having to deny allegations that she was in fact a he, in a row that even the South African Government became embroiled in.
Gossip surrounding Semenya’s gender had surrounded the runner all week, but it came to a head yesterday when, after the 18-year-old had won the gold in 1min 55.45sec, the International Association of Athletics Federations announced that it had asked the girl to provide “gender verification documentation”.
Today the runner’s relatives were forced to defend their daughter. Her mother Dorcus Semenya said: “I know who and what my child is. Mokgadi Caster is a girl and no one can change that.”
Jacob Semenya, her father, added: “She is my little girl. I raised her and I have never doubted her gender. She is a woman and I can repeat that a million times.”
Her grandmother Maphuthi Sekgala, said: “She called me after the heats and told me that they think she’s a man. What can I do when they call her a man, when she’s really not a man? It is God who made her look that way.”
Even the South African Government got involved. A statement from the African National Congress said: “We condemn the motives of those who have made it their business to question her gender. Caster is not the only woman athlete with a masculine build and the International Association of Athletics Federation should know better.”