Former world 800m champion Caster Semenya has cut ties with the coach that recognised her talent as a teenager from a farming settlement in Limpopo and lifted her to the centre stage of global athletics. Michael Seme, who coached Semenya for the last four years, did not know if the 20-year-old had found a new mentor.
"She is still around here in Pretoria," Seme said on Friday.
"I have seen her running on the road, but I don't know if she has found a new coach."
Caster Semenya was born 7 January 1991 and is a South African middle-distance runner and world champion. Semenya won gold in the women's 800 metres at the 2009 World Championships with a time of 1:55.45 in the final. Following her victory at the 2009 World Championships, questions were raised about whether Semenya had a physical condition that might give her an unfair advantage over other female racers. She was withdrawn from international competition until 6 July 2010 when the IAAF cleared her to return to competition. In 2010, the British magazine New Statesman included Semenya in its list "The World's 50 Most Influential Figures 2010".
Following her victory at the world championships, questions were raised about her gender. The IAAF's handling of the case spurred many negative reactions. A number of athletes, including retired sprinter Michael Johnson, criticized the organization for its response to the incident. Prominent South African civic leaders, commentators, politicians, and activists characterized the controversy as racist, as well as an affront to Semenya's privacy and human rights. The IAAF said it only made the test public after it had already been reported in the media, denying charges of racism and expressing regret about "the allegations being made about the reasons for which these tests are being conducted." The federation also explained that the motivation for the test was not suspected cheating but a desire to determine whether she had a "rare medical condition" giving her an unfair competitive advantage. The president of the IAAF stated that the case could have been handled with more sensitivity. In an interview with South African magazine YOU Semenya stated, "God made me the way I am and I accept myself."
Caster Semenya has been included in South Africa's 26- member squad for the 2011 World Athletics Championships. Semenya, has not beenconsistent in her build-up to the global championships, but she has met the qulaifying time with her season's best of 1:58.60 - more than three seconds slower than her national record - She is now ranked 14th in the world heading into the global championships. Semenya had hoped to also compete in the 1500m race, but fell more than seven seconds short of the qualifying standard and was not selected for the longer event.
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