Website makes Caster boob
Johannesburg - The management of Athletics SA have been left red-faced after it emerged that on their website, women’s world 800m champion Caster Semenya is referred to as a man.
ASA was made aware of the mistake two weeks ago, but had by Friday had still not corrected it.
In the preview for the Under-23, junior and youth athletics meeting at Germiston on April 2-3, a report states that Wilhelm van der Vyver, Roscoe Engel, Wade Jooste, Cornel Fredericks and Caster Semenya are the male Under-23 athletes to watch. In the same report, Semenya is mentioned among the female athletes.
As it turned out, Semenya did not take part in the event.
Within hours of the publication of the report, ASA was made aware by SMS of the mistake and warned that it could be embarrassing if not corrected.
The reporter who wrote the article described it as an unforgivable error on his part when he was made aware of it.
ASA chairperson James Evans asked at the event that it be corrected, but this was not done. On Friday, he repeated his apology for the error and said he thought it had been corrected already. “I don’t doubt that it was a genuine error by the journalist. There was never any intention to embarrass Caster Semenya.”
He said the journalist was under immense pressure when he wrote the report.
“I want to make it clear that ASA has the greatest respect for Caster Semenya … she is a true ambassador for South African athletics, as shown by the fact that she is one of the few athletes who have participated in almost all the Yellow Pages events,” Evans said.
He made a plea to the media to focus on Semenya’s achievements, and not sensationalism.
Semenya suffered a verbal attack from the athlete she beat at the women’s 1 500m final at the South African Athletics Championships in Durban last weekend.
According to witnesses, Lebogang Phalula, who came second and has won multiple national titles on the track, openly stated her frustration at competing against Semenya, who was cleared to run against women again in July last year.
Phalula also allegedly tried to make an announcement over the public system, in the midst of a rant, after Semenya had chased her down to win the race.
Onlookers apparently prevented her from taking the microphone from the announcer on the track.
Phalula failed to appear for the medal ceremony.
Semenya and her team-mate, Violet Raseboya, who embraced after the race in which Raseboya claimed third place, arrived at the ceremony and received their medals in her absence.
Phalula said later that “I have nothing against her running. I’m happy to compete against her.”
Asked to explain the details of the alleged incident, Phalula said she had been told by a lawyer not to make any comment.
Semenya’s manager, Jukka Harkonen, said shortly after the incident that they expect no problems when Semenya competes on the international circuit this season.
“We were in Europe last year and there were no problems.
“She competed in Europe, and we never had any issues,” Harkonen said.