Rio 2016: Caster Semenya victory in 800m reduces Team GB athlete Lynsey Sharp to tears

South African's win reignites controversy over hyperandrogenist athletes whose levels of testosterone are elevated above an arbitrary level in women

Samuel Stevens
Monday 22 August 2016 15:56
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Lynsey Sharp criticises rule changes

Team GB athlete Lynsey Sharp was reduced to tears when asked about multiple intersex athletes in the Olympic women's 800m final, after Caster Semenya beat her to the gold medal.

South African Semenya's participation in the Games has reignited debate around her hyperandrogenism, whereby levels of testosterone are elevated above an arbitrary level in women, with Sharp having previously highlighted “obvious” competitors who contribute to “two separate races” in Rio.

Sharp registered a personal best of one minute 57.69 seconds but could only finish sixth as Semenya took gold ahead of silver and bronze medallists Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi and Kenya’s Margaret Wambui respectively.

Clearly upset, Sharpe told BBC Sport after the race: “I have tried to avoid the issue all year. 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.

“I was coming down the home straight, we were not far away and you can see how close it is. That is encouraging. We will work hard and aim to come back even stronger.”

Sharp, 26, has addressed the subject before in an interview with the Daily Telegraph when she said “everyone can see” the difference between athletes with the condition and those without it.

“Everyone can see it’s two separate races so there’s nothing I can do,” she said earlier this summer.

“If you take away the obvious ones it’s actually really competitive,” she added. “For me, it’s not a new thing running against those girls. I’ve competed against Caster since 2008 so it’s nothing new for me.

“I’m very familiar with the situation and there’s nothing I can do about it other than concentrate on my performance. It’s not like I stand on the start line seething inside, going: ‘It’s so annoying that they are here.'

“It’s an individual sport and I can’t control what they do, so I just have to go out there and do the best that I can.”

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