Semenya dedicates win to Winnie Mandela

South Africa's Caster Semenya winning the women's 800m final at the Carrara Stadium on the Gold Coast yesterday. She also won the 1,500m earlier in the week.
South Africa's Caster Semenya winning the women's 800m final at the Carrara Stadium on the Gold Coast yesterday. She also won the 1,500m earlier in the week.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

GOLD COAST (Australia) • Caster Semenya, who has long competed under a cloud owing to elevated testosterone levels that critics say give her an unfair edge, shrugged off the controversy to complete a Commonwealth Games double with victory in the women's 800m yesterday.

The 27-year-old, who identifies as a woman, dedicated her gold medal to the late Winnie Mandela after her crushing win.

Semenya, who won the 1,500m earlier this week, smashed her rivals once again to clock a Games record of 1min 56.68sec.

After the race, she revealed how anti-apartheid hero Mandela, who died two weeks ago after a long illness, had helped her through adversity.

"She was a friend and always told me to be myself, to love myself - don't listen to the noise, don't entertain nonsense," said Semenya, who has a condition known as hyperandrogenism. "To just go out and show the world what I can do."

Semenya left Kenya's Margaret Nyairera Wambui for dead coming off the final bend to win with plenty to spare, as Jamaican Natoya Goule took bronze.

While questions persist over whether Semenya should even be allowed to take the field, the runner revealed that the brickbats were a form of motivation for her.

"I understand how to handle emotions, how to handle negativity and turn it into positivity," the world champion added. "I've had to learn how to manage it myself, how to face the world. It's not about what other people think of me, it's about how I think of myself."

In the boxing ring, a bizarre turn of events led to Australian flyweight Taylah Robertson winning a bronze yesterday - despite losing her one and only fight.

The 19-year-old home hope was given a bye in the seven-woman competition by the computer-generated draw, propelling her straight into the semi-finals.

That meant a certain bronze, even though she was beaten on a split-points decision by Lisa Whiteside of England.

With the bout spanning three rounds, each of them three minutes long, Robertson's Games lasted just nine minutes.

Two Indian athletes were kicked out of the Games yesterday after syringes were found in their accommodation.

Triple jumper Rakesh Babu and race-walker Irfan Kolothum Thodi were stripped of their accreditation, due to a breach of tournament rules, and ordered to take the first available flight home.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 14, 2018, with the headline 'Semenya dedicates win to Winnie Mandela'. Print Edition | Subscribe