22 April 2010

Caster's future in the balance

In-limbo world champion Caster Semenya says athletics is "nothing" to her and she is prepared to walk away from the sport.

In-limbo world champion Caster Semenya says athletics is "nothing" to her and she is prepared to walk away from the sport.

"For me, running is nothing. Honestly, it's nothing," Semenya said on Wednesday at a news conference in Pretoria.

Speaking for the first time in person about the IAAF's gender tests that have sidelined her since the world championships last August, the 19-year-old South African was defiant in saying she would decide her future on the track, no matter what the results are of the tests that are expected in June.

'I decided to run'

"When I came to athletics I am the one who decided to run," Semenya said. "I'm the one who decides.

"They (the IAAF) can make their own decisions. But don't forget I am the one who must say so. I will decide if I walk out or if I stay there."
When asked by The Associated Press if she had thought seriously about giving up, Semenya smiled and said no. "I don't quit," she said.

Caster Semenya Sports Academy

Semenya called the press conference to launch the Caster Semenya Sports Academy and appeared alongside coach Michael Seme.

But in her first public appearance since she was prevented from taking part in a meet in Stellenbosch in March, Semenya cast doubt on her long-term future in athletics.

"I cannot do it for a living," Semenya said.

"Athletics is athletics. When you do sport you are gambling. You run, you win, you lose. It doesn't matter if you are competing or you are not competing."

Semenya is studying at the University of Pretoria, and said she had other options.

"To me I don't think sport is something that I can take for life. I still have my academy, my studies ... "

Good at 'everything'

"You know I'm good in everything. I cannot say athletics is my first option."

Semenya's comments hinted at her frustration at the lengthy IAAF process.

She has not competed since her stunning debut at the world champs in Berlin, where she blew away the field in the 800-meter final.

It led to the IAAF ordering gender tests for the runner, who was 18 at the time.

The IAAF has said repeatedly that they will not make any public comment on Semenya until her medical process is complete.

Semenya began the news conference by thanking her advisers, coach, family and people of South Africa for their support. "They've been good to me," she said.

Help talented athletes

She also said "the scandals, I can't talk about now because we are concentrating on the academy and the website." She then invited questions from reporters.

Semenya said her goal, through the academy, was to help talented athletes who came from "humble" backgrounds, like her. "We are going to help the young talented athletes become world champions," she said.

Semenya said she turned to athletics only from her first sport, football, because she was good at it.

"I can run fast," she said. - (GERALD IMRAY/AP/Sapa, April 2010)




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