Caster Semenya could have played for Banyana Banyana … yes you read right. South Africa’s much-loved track darling played soccer as a youngster, but decided to chose the path of Athletics.
It goes without saying that Semenya has cemented her place in the hearts of South Africans since she first came on to the scene back in 2008 where she won gold at the Commonwealth Youth Games in India.
From there then, on the now 32-year old set the pace when it came to the 800m discipline, and a year later, the 18-year old went on to win the 800 and 1500m at the Africa Junior Championships.
In August of that year she also broke the Senior and Junior South African records, previously set by Zelda Pretorius and Zola Budd.
From Silver to Gold as the Records Tumble
Then Semenya won silver at the London 2012 Olympics Games but was then awarded the gold medal, after Russian athlete Mariya Savinova was given a ban due to doping violations.
This triumph lead to more records broken by Semenya as she went on to become the first person to win the 400m, 800m, and 1500m titles, at the South African National Championships.
Semenya knew after taking bringing in the medals that she was on the career path, and when you look at her track record (pun intended) you can see why she decided to head down that road.
The SA track star recently joined Anele and the Club on 947 (Click to watch the Full Interview on YouTube) where she spoke about her book, “The Race to Be Myself”, and gave insight on the goings on in her life since she was young.
But has she has given up on football all together? In 2019 she trained with Banyana legend Janine van Wyk’s team, JVW FC!
Semenya says although she played soccer, it was clear to her that the track was where she could excel.
The Path Had been Chosen
“Sometimes it’s about seeing the reality, I had to choose between athletics and football, and when I had to come to Jo’burg for trials, I was supposed to go to Sundowns because my brother had connections and said ‘Look, you should go and try out for football, I am sure that you will make it’.”
“But then I looked at what I achieved at the Commonwealth Youth Games, and I compared the time with the finals, and I thought, the last lady placed with 2 minutes, I do fit in there, I’m close and I was 17, and if I convert this in two years, I can do well.
“If you choose your path, there is no what-if’s. You can’t have that … I could have done it … no, no, no. I made my choice, and I pulled it through, and I won a title at the age of 18, so there isn’t much that I could have compared that with,” said Semenya.
“If I got the gold around my neck, why must I say, ‘if I could have made it to the World Cup’? I am happy for them (Banyana), they have done exceptionally well. I’m proud of them, but I am also proud of myself.”
Semenya recently had a court win before the European Court of Human Rights, which ruled the double Olympic champion was the victim of discrimination.
European Court of Human Rights Decides in Favour of Semenya
She says the case is something that that she will continue to fight.
“We stand a good chance, to go back to the Court of Arbitration. The Swiss may appeal, because they not happy with it, but as a human, if you fight for what is right, that’s the most important thing. We need to protect the up-and-coming, young athletes.
“They need to protect them, they need to protect their rights. If they can protect their rights, it’s fine, and we are fine, and we are okay.”
“But the case is bigger than us. We don’t know what will be the outcome, but we are positive about what we are doing, because we stand for what is right, we fight for diversity and inclusivity, and that’s what we are doing. So for me, I will keep on fighting for what is right. That’s my purpose and that is why I am here. That is why they called me Mokgadi, because I am a guider. I’m here to guide, I’m here to fight for what’s right. I am a freedom fighter, I am a South African, that’s what we do best.”
Photo Caption: Caster Semenya could have played for Banyana Banyana … yes you read right. South Africa’s much-loved track darling played soccer as a youngster, but chose the path of Athletics instead. Semanya, who has just published her book ‘The Race to Be Myself’, does not entertain any regrets. Photo: Caster Semenya on X