Sports bosses net undue credit

2012-08-11 14:32

South Africa cheered as Caster Semenya eased over the finish line to qualify for the women’s 800m Olympic final.

Three years ago, the now-21-year-old Limpopo resident sprinted into the world spotlight first as the 800m world champion and then as the victim of a cruel campaign which saw her gender overtake her speed as the subject of world headlines.

Semenya was effectively hung out to dry by this country’s sports administrators: the very people who should have offered her support and guidance and who should have gone out to battle for her dignity, were nowhere to be seen.

Semenya survived the scandal, proving both her amazing inner strength and her powerful physicality in the run-up to the London Olympics.

And now, the same administrators who backed away when they should have been rallying behind her will take credit for her success.

Administrators who, between Olympic Games, are asked difficult ­questions about performance – theirs, and the federations they represent.

Administrators who, as the world’s flags fly over London, are no doubt slapping each other on the backs and celebrating “their” athletes’ performances.

Asking tough questions of these administrators seems to prick holes in the balloon of delight floating above all South African sport lovers now.
But we must ask, and we must know: can we ­rely on these people to always back their athletes not just when the medals are gold and the country is celebrating?

The history is not encouraging. We can only hope that future Semenyas receive the support they need when it really matters.

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