Caster Semenya (Getty Images)
Cape Town - South
African 800m runner, Caster Semenya, is no stranger to
The athlete has been plagued by a nearly constant debate
over whether or not she should be allowed to compete in the women's 800m
since she burst onto the scene, winning gold at the 2009 World
In the immediate aftermath of her victory, it was announced the
athlete would be subjected to gender testing, a decision that outraged
the South African government, who accused the IAAF of racism.
The athlete herself is keen to highlight that she is a human being first - and an athlete second.
Semenya, who has been subject to a strict media ban while in Rio
said: "I am not a fake. I am natural. I am just being Caster. I don't
want to be someone I don't want to be. I don't want to be someone people
want me to be. I just want to be me. I was born like this. I don't want
Whatever is written or said about Semenya, she has been cleared to
compete at the Rio Games and, as the fastest woman over 800 metres this
year, is the clear favourite to take gold, with many tipping her to
break the world record.
Semenya is a figure that polarises opinion - considered an icon of
the LGBTQ community in South Africa, but subject to cruel and unusual
The athlete herself is committed to keep running, even if banned from
competing with women due to her naturally high levels of testosterone.
The runner added: "Running is what I will always do,
"Even if, maybe, the authorities could have stopped me from running
in 2009, they could not have stopped me in the fields. I would have
carried on with my running, it doesn't matter. When I run I feel free,
my mind is free."
Semenya has a very real shot of claiming the 800-metre gold in Rio.
Whether or not she gets to keep that medal and remain running
competitively, only time and the Court for the Arbitration of Sport will
The competition she will be facing up to in Rio will include
Burundi's Francine Niyonsaba, who currently sits in second on the IAAF
Diamond league standings for the women's 800 metres. She won the
Birmingham meeting in June in Semenya's absence.
The United Sates will be pinning their hopes on World Indoor Championships 2016 silver medalist Ajee Wilson.