Caster Semenya is arguably one of SA’s most celebrated athletes. Despite some difficult experiences, she has continued to focus on perfecting her craft and competing at the highest level. We took a few steps back and caught up with Caster about how her incredible career began, the inspiration behind it and more ahead of the 800m Diamond League final in Zürich, Switzerland.
When did you start running competitively? How did it come about?
I started running competitively from what they called youth stage at the time. I started off playing soccer and running cross-country.
What was your biggest influence as an athlete?
For me, I really enjoy the sport, I focus on the passion, obviously winning is also a good feeling, but when I am on that track, I feel free, that’s an incredible feeling.
What’s your favourite running memory?
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 onto the scene. So those were the highlights of my life. But I was 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 know which ones were right for me.
What would you consider your greatest achievement as an athlete? And personally?
As an athlete, I am very proud of how much stronger my performance becomes each time, personally, my state of mind is so positive that I am able to face challenges with a calm approach, calm for me is a superpower. The ultimate weapon against any challenge is a calm mind.
How do you deal with adversity? And negative press?
I stay calm, I focus, and I remind myself that this is what God has blessed me with, once you can value that, nothing can shake you.
What’s your advice to young women wanting to excel at what they’re passionate about?
Be disciplined, keep your mind in the game, commit fully, and love what you do.
What excites you about athletics in SA?
The talent we have here in SA and on the continent is amazing, I am excited about the future of athletics.
What do you think we need more of re. athletics in SA?
More commitment towards development programs, a course I give a lot of my time to my foundation.
What cause is close to your heart? Why?
Development of young up and coming athletes, if I can impact positively on these youngsters, that in itself will be a major win for me, for our nation.
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