Cape Town - Star South African athlete Caster Semenya has been nominated for the prestigious Laureus World Sports Awards to be held later this month.
READ: Caster nominated for top Laureus award
Semenya, the current Olympic and world 800m champion is one of six women set to duke it out in the Sportswoman of the Year category.
The winners, as voted for by members of the Laureus World Sports Academy, will be revealed in Monaco on Tuesday, February 27.
Semenya, 27, took time out of her busy schedule to answer the following questions:
Question: Congratulations. Can you tell me what it means to be nominated for a Laureus Award?
Caster Semenya: What I can
say, it's a dream come true. You know,
as an athlete, obviously we have goals, we have dreams, but this is one of the
dreams that I dreamed, you know, from young, watching sportsmen and sportswomen
on top of the world, being nominated, and then say one day, if I can be there,
I will be fulfilled.
a Laureus Award more special because Laureus Academy Members include great
athletes like Michael Johnson, Seb Coe, Edwin Moses?
Caster Semenya: It's
very special to be selected amongst the best in the world. So you know, when you check the likes of
Michael Johnson, for me, it's a very special feeling. It's someone that I looked up to since I'm
watching what he has accomplished. It's
nominated with you is a group of very famous sportswomen: Serena Williams,
Katie Ledecky, Allyson Felix, who you will know, Mikaela Shiffrin, plus tennis
player, Garbine Muguruza. What do you
think of those names?
Caster Semenya: Those
are great sportswomen. Great in what they do. I respect their work. I follow
their work. They are phenomenal. They are strong. What I can say, I have one
word for them: They are fantastic. I feel blessed, privileged to be amongst a
list of great women like that. So what I
can say is may they keep working hard and God bless them. Being nominated with
the best, I feel like I am a winner already.
Question: You will remember forever the
World Championships in London. What is
the best memory of that great 800 metres run?
Caster Semenya: I think
the last 200 metres when I attacked. I
watched it over and over, how I executed the movements, especially on my last
60 metres. It's unbelievable, you know.
It shows the hard work that we put in. Always God is great, if I may say,
because I feel like I'm a living testimony of God and I'm a message out here
for the young kids who cannot be able to do what they want to do, reiterating
that voice for them. For me, you know,
it's very special and I can never forget it. I'll cherish it for the rest of my life.
back, can you pick the greatest moment in your career?
Caster Semenya: I would
say that Rio (Olympics in 2016) is one of my highlights, and obviously back
then (at the World Championships in 2009) was the first time I made it to the
scene. So those were the highlights of
my life. But if you were a young girl,
you know, I had to grow. I had to be mature. I had to find a way how to make
decisions and how to make right ones and how to pick the wrong ones and take
them out. I think winning in 2009 and winning in Rio are the best moments of my
life, I can never forget.
you began your athletics career, did you ever believe that you would do as well
as you have?
Caster Semenya: I think
for me it was never about winning. It
was about enjoying what I do, and then obviously winning comes along and then
getting faster also comes along. But for
me, it's just all about being on the track, being free, being what I love. I feel free when I run. I think I was just
doing it for the love of sport, nothing else. But obviously when you see that you can win, and then you start working
very hard so you can maintain the winning streaks and all those medals,
everything, the accolades, the awards and everything.
are your next goals in 2018?
Caster Semenya: I'll
start with Nationals, middle of March, and then obviously we will have the Commonwealth
Games where I will also try the double again, so I can be able to win two golds.
That is the main goal. And then we still
have African Champs and the World Cup.
you looking forward already to the Tokyo Olympics in 2020?
Caster Semenya: Yes, of
course. That's the build-up. We take a step at a time. I'm an athlete that works more in the short-term
goals. Obviously every month we see how
we can improve our fitness, how we can improve our biomechanics and how we can
improve our breathing and everything. So, yes, Tokyo, I'm looking forward to
it. I'll be 29. So it will be probably my last Olympics, 800
metres, I don't know. But yes, if I can
still go faster, you never know where you can end up. But yes, I'm very excited. It will be my third Olympics. I'm looking forward to it.
you won another gold medal that would be historic. Nobody has won three Olympic 800 metres gold
Caster Semenya: To me, it
will show that anything is possible if you believe. So for me, also I'm doing it for the little
kids in Africa, especially where I'm coming from in South Africa because our
middle distance is not that strong. I
just want to show that if you believe, if you work hard, you can achieve
anything that you want in your life. If you set up your goals and then wake up
and make it happen, you can be the greatest of them all.
you and Wayde van Niekerk, this is a great time for athletics in South Africa?
Caster Semenya: In
our generation, we have matured into a great sprinting and middle distance
runners. I think the coaching clinics that our federation do, have done a lot
of work in terms of development. So, I think we are very hungry to
achieve. We noticed that we know that we
have this opportunity so we need to use it. Also I think we are as united as ever, because if you can check this new
generation, we are always together. Motivation is very high. If you check also the quote of late Nelson
Mandela, sport has got a way to inspire the world, and you have a way to change
the world, also. That's how we build
things. We support each other as much as
we can. We motivate. We do a lot of things together, and also, our
coaches, you know, they have grown big.
you and Wayde friends?
Caster Semenya: Yes,
we're very, very good friends. We're
like brother and sister.
people in South Africa recognise you in the street and come and say how pleased
they are by what you're doing?
Caster Semenya: Yes, they
are inspired. They love what we do. We give back to them, interacting with them,
giving them what they want. They want
the love. That's all they need from us,
so we hang out with them, if we have time. Yes, it's great. If you see how
when we are on track, how people react, it's just love.
you have a role model in track and field who inspired you?
Caster Semenya: I
looked up to the late Mbulaeni Mulaudzi. He came
from Limpopo, the same province. He's coming from the east. I come from the west. So I used to watch his races. I wanted to be like him. Of course, Edwin
Moses, Maria Mutola, but in South Africa, I looked up to Mbulaeni.
there a crucial moment when you thought you could be a champion?
Caster Semenya: Yes, of
course. For me, coming from a rural
area, I played soccer, and then I realised that balancing athletics and soccer,
it can never work. That's when I won the
Commonwealth Games. When I won that, when I was able to defeat the best in the
world, it gave me hope and belief. So I told myself that if I get the chance to
be in the Olympics, to be in the World Championships, I'll use that opportunity
to become the best.
you have a strong family that supports you?
Caster Semenya: Yes. We have a big family. My dad used to play soccer. He used to be a good runner. My mom played netball. My sister used to do athletics, but
obviously, you know, as kids, we have our own choices. My brother is now playing football and
I'm trying to get him to be a professional. So the support is very high. They are the most supportive, my family. The love that they have for me, the love that
I have for them, the bond is very hard to explain. Sport runs in our blood.
of the important elements of Laureus is not just celebrating the great sporting
successes, but also the work it does to help disadvantaged children through
sport, especially in South Africa.
I love their work. I love to get
involved as much as I can. I've already established my foundation. I would be focused on improving sports
facilities, abundant ones, and then trying to get achievement in sport in
terms of development. So getting
involved with them, I hope they will notice me or take me and adapt me as one
of their own. So they are doing fantastic work, what I can say to them, just
keep on doing that. It really helps a
lot, especially for the kids that are coming to the rural areas where they
don't have any facilities. They don't
have sport equipment. They don't have
running shoes, they don't have soccer boots. They don't have clothing and stuff like that. It touches me to see all
that they do. So I just want to be
involved so I can make changes in the other kids lives.
what you have said, you obviously believe that successful sports stars like you
have a duty to give back to those less fortunate?
Semenya: Yes, it's very important, because there are kids that look up to the
athletes. You know, giving back doesn't
mean money. It's not money. It's not material. But even if I go to the rural areas and see
how these kids train, how they live, it means a lot to them. It means you care. So I think for all sportsmen
and women, we should do that and encourage kids so that we can take them off
the streets because they know that if Caster Semenya can come to my place
and see what I do, see how I live life, it's possible for me to get out of this
place, be the best in the world. If we can all do that, I think we can change