- As a junior, Caster Semenya won her 800m speciality at the 2008 Commonwealth Youth Games
- It was in August the next year that she ran a sub-two minute race to win the gold at the Africa Junior Championships in Mauritius
- At the time she was only 18, but suddenly, everyone was discussing about the young girl from Polokwane in the North Sotho Limpopo province
While still competing as a junior athlete, Caster Semenya once almost lost her resolve coming close to breaking down in tears under the harsh and unforgiving glare of scrutiny which surrounded her initial success.
Kenyan journalist, Elias Makori writes of how Semenya has managed to show the confidence and grace far in advance of her age.
Briefly.co.za has reported in the past that she faced continued critical scrutiny which would probably have had anyone suffering from a crippling crisis of confidence.
But, recently Semenya tweeted the following words which we feel shows the strength of her nettle: “Confidence is silent. Insecurities are loud!” which more than sums up her grace under fire.
Despite talk that she was a boy disguised as a girl, her brute strength and speed unseen before, and scores of journalists hounding her, some even asking her bluntly about her genitals, she has remained poised and focused on what is important in her life.
Semenya wasn’t alone in all that she faced, and that might well be what has helped her overcome all the adversity which a cruel world has thrown her way.
She received counselling to help her cope and it seems to have given her the needed confidence to face the world and follow her dreams.
All of a sudden, the young athlete was able to follow her dreams, even going so far as to marry her long-time girlfriend Violet Roseboya at an exclusive and extravagant two ceremony wedding.
Instead of being pushed around by the world, Semenya had, it seemed, taken back control and was in charge of her life.
No longer a girl, Semenya is today a woman with the strength of personal philosophy which gives her far more strength than muscles, hormones, or even the rigorous training she takes in her stride could provide.
At the most recent Commonwealth Games Australia, Semenyawon a double gold in the 800m and 1,500m, declaring her intention to outlive Mozambican legend Maria Mutola’s two-decade reign in middle distance glory.
Semenya is now accustomed to nagging questions from journalists and knows how to hold her own. Instead of averting her eyes the way a young girl might do, she looks the questioner in the eyes and gives confident answers. In many ways, her ability to speak truth over the noise that so often surrounds celebrity sets her aside as someone who commands respect and will not be ignored.
“I love myself,” she reportedly told told Makori when he interviewed her at the Commonwealth Games in Australia. “From the age of five, I didn’t care what people think of me. What I think of is the love that I get from my family, the love that I get from my friends, the love that I get from my nation,” she told him.
“You always have to surround yourself with the right people, I appreciate the love that I get from my parents. They have raised me for who I am, and they are never ashamed of their kids,” she said echoing the confidence that her Twitter account reflects.
“The two most powerful warriors are patience and time,” she tweeted one Friday, for instance, and: “Confidence is contagious. Catch it, Spread it,” she posted a day earlier.
She also has taken it upon herself to extend the contagious confidence she has developed for herself to the girls who would look up to her. She is a real-life hero for many underprivileged South African girls, who, like herself in Polokwane, were born in rural areas.
Semenya today doesn’t need to draw on others for her confidence, she has confidence from within, and so can offer her strength to help others. “It’s about the girls in the rural areas who cannot believe they can do this (win medals),” she told Makori after her 800m and 1,500m double Down Under.
“This is just to show them that if you work hard and believe in yourself, anything is possible.”
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