The national soccer team, Banyana Banyana, has thrown its weight behind Caster Semenya as she prepares for a legal battle with the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).
The world number-one athlete is due to challenge IAAF proposed regulations, which will see female runners with high levels of testosterone being forced to compete with males or take medication to control the hormones.
Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis says this fight in more than just about Semenya but affects athletes across the world.
Semenya’s legal team is expected to argue that she be allowed to compete without having to undertake what they say are “unnecessary medical interventions”.
Ellis has backed a campaign launched by the Sports Ministry for the proposed rules to be sacked.
“The campaign is not just about Caster Semenya, but about other athletes facing the same issues.”
With the team set to compete in the Women’s Fifa World Cup in June, she says Banyana Banyana is encouraged by Semenya’s resilience: “Caster has been very brave and strong, through all the challenges she’s faced she’s come out on top. So, her strength inspires us. She’s our beacon of hope, going out there and competing with the top athletes in the world and coming out on top.”
The matter is set to be heard at the Court of Arbitration for Sports in Switzerland on Monday.
Meanwhile, the Sports Ministry says the proposed regulations by IAAF could deprive the world of witnessing the natural talent of African athletes.
Sports and Recreation Minister Tokozile Xasa says the proposed rules appear to be targeting Semenya.
Xasa has called on South Africans to support her: “The campaign will target various sectors of local and global communities, and through proper channels will engage human rights organisations and eminent persons in an effort to ensure that the whole world condemns these regulations.”
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