Semenya unfazed by IAAF chief's stance on intersex athletes

Semenya came under scrutiny at the 2009 world championships because of her genetic make-up.

South Africa’s Caster Semenya celebrates after she won the Women’s 800m Final during the athletics event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on 20 August, 2016. Picture: AFP.

RIO DE JANEIRO - Olympic 800 metres champion Caster Semenya says that she's not concerning herself with comments made by the Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) President Sebastian Coe which indicate that a 2015 Court of Arbitration for Sport decision to set aside testosterone regulation among so-called intersex athletes is to be reviewed.

Coe's comments were made on the eve of Semenya's Olympic success and saw the spotlight thrust sharply onto the 25-year-old and her avoid almost all media opportunities as a result, at the Rio 2016 Olympics.

Semenya ran a new South African record on Sunday morning to win the title ahead of Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi and Margaret Wambui of Kenya.

When asked by Eyewitness News if she felt let down by world athletics bosses, this was her reply.

"I don't think it's a big thing. You just need to be great leader, you just need to lead by example. For me I'm not focused more on individuals, I'll just focus more on the support that I get from my people. You can't focus on those things, I think maybe if people they just unite, we can be a great world."

Semenya going on to add that her medal not only was a triumph for her and her family but for all of her supporters in South Africa too.

Semenya came under global scrutiny after winning gold at the world championships in 2009 because of her genetic make-up and alleged unfair advantage over other female athletes.

The 25-year-old ran a personal best time of 1 minute 55.28 seconds earlier today to win gold in Rio.

Semenya says she believes sports can and should unite people.

"It's all about loving one another, it's not about discriminating people. It's not about looking at people at how they look, how they speak, how they run. It's not about being muscular. It's all about sports."

After winning the 2009 world title as a 19-year-old, tests reportedly revealed that she is hyperandrogenous, resulting in her body producing an abnormally high amount of testosterone, which makes her more powerful than her rivals.

An IAAF rule limiting the amount of naturally occurring functional testosterone for female athletes appeared to have restricted Semenya's prospects but the rule was quashed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport last year.

In Rio, France's Justine Fedronic, who failed to qualify for the 800m final, said she had sympathy for Semenya's situation but did not consider competing against her a fair fight.

"I just want to be a better athlete. The main focus here was just to run a championship," Semenya told reporters. "The coaches told me: just focus on running, nothing else."

"Sport is meant to unite people," she added. "I think that's what we need to keep doing."

She won the silver medal in London four years ago. Ahead of the 2016 Games, there was speculation she could break Czech Jarmila Kratochvilova's world record of 1:53.28 set in 1983. It is the longest-standing athletics world record.

"To be honest, we're really not focused on breaking the world record," she said. "We are focused more on being the best we can be."

Staying with the pack for the first lap, Semenya let Niyonsaba lead the race up to the 600-metre mark before pulling ahead with an injection of pace to take the gold.

"The race was really quick. The first 400 we were pushing ourselves, it was great," Semenya told reporters.

"It was just about being patient ... I have a very quick last 200, I just have to utilise it."

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