Semenya's coach hits out as rival rails 'we are running against a man'

Barry Roberts
Tuesday 24 August 2010 00:00 BST

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Caster Semenya "doesn't care" about the criticism aimed at her since she returned to athletics, according to her coach. The Canadian athlete Diane Cummins said on Sunday that running against Semenya was like "literally running against a man", but Michael Seme said the South African is unmoved.

Seme, speaking yesterday, added that those who complain should stay at home but his comments are unlikely to end the disquiet among a number of Semenya's rivals. "Unfortunately for Caster, she's grown up in an environment that is complicated not just for her but for human science," Cummins said. "Basically, is she man, is she lady? What constitutes male, what constitutes female?

"Even if she is a female, she's on the very fringe of the normal athlete female biological composition of hormone testing. So, from that perspective, most of us just feel that we are literally running against a man."

Seme refused to hit back. "It's up to them to say and do what they want to," he said. "We don't say anything. As long as the organisers of meetings invite us, there is no problem. People are people and they will say things, but we have no problem. If these athletes don't want to come and run, it's up to them."

Asked whether there were any concerns from Semenya by what was being said, he responded: "No, no, no. We don't even care about the past now, we're just looking forward to new things and shouldn't be talking about the old ones. That is now over and gone."

For Semenya, 19, it was a return to the Berlin Olympic Stadium on Sunday, almost a year to the day since she was crowned champion in the two-lap race at the World Championships.

She was subsequently banned by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) after unusually high levels of testosterone were detected in a sample.

After being cleared last month, she won her first two races back in Finland, clocking 2min 4.22sec and 2:02.41, but improved significantly in Berlin by dipping under two minutes.

According to Seme, it bodes well for the future with Semenya's first major test to come at October's Commonwealth Games in Delhi. He continued: "We are very happy, but I must stress that we are not yet there. We are just trying things at the moment and looking on improvements all the time.

"I think for the Commonwealth Games we are targeting at least one minute 57 seconds. When I say target, I don't mean for us, but I mean for the competition, it will be a good competition time. So for us that will be good."

That goal would mean Semenya running over a second slower than her personal best of 1:55.45, which she ran to claim gold in Berlin last year.

Seme stopped short of predicting another victory in India. He added: "We can't say what will happen there, but if she can run that time then she will be good competition for the others. Perhaps if she is level with the rest heading into the last lap, then she can push for one of the medals."

Semenya's next race is in Italy at the Notturna di Milano on 9 September.

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