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Mokgadi Caster Semenya

The Order of Ikhamanga in

Mokgadi Caster Semenya Awarded for:
Her outstanding contribution to the sporting field of middle distance track running. Her performance against all odds has made the country proud.
Profile of Mokgadi Caster Semenya

Mokgadi Caster Semenya is one of the most well-loved daughters of the soil who won hearts of many by making running look like poetry in motion. Semenya was born on 7 January 1991 in Ga-Masehlong village in Limpopo. She has three sisters and a brother. Semenya attended Nthema Secondary School and now attends the University of Pretoria as a sports science student. She is a middle-distance runner.

Semenya participated in the 2008 World Junior Championships, and won gold in the 800m at the 2008 Commonwealth Youth Games. In the African Junior Championships Semenya won both the 800m and 1 500m races with the times of one minute, 56,72 seconds and four minutes, 8,01 seconds respectively. With that race she improved her 800m personal best by seven seconds in less than nine months. The 800m time was the world leading time in 2009 at that date. It was also a national record and a championship record. Semenya simultaneously beat the senior and junior South African records held by Zelda Pretorius at one minute, 58,85 seconds and Zola Budd at two minutes, 00,90 seconds, respectively.

She won gold in the women’s 800m at the 2009 World Championship with a time of one minute 55,45 seconds in the final. Semenya also won silver medals at the 2011 World Championship and the 2012 Summer Olympics both in the 800 m. Semenya portrayed maturity beyond her years by gracefully handling the controversy brought upon her by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). The IAAF claimed that it felt “obliged to investigate” her for drug use after she improved 25 seconds on the 1 500m and eight seconds on the 800m. The IAAF also asked Semenya to undergo a gender test.

Throughout the disturbing allegations, Semenya remained poised and dignified. In September 2010, the British magazine New Statesman included Semenya in its annual list of “50 People That Matter.”

After the controversy passed Semenya was keen to get back to her sport. She was chosen to carry the country’s flag during the opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics. She won a silver medal in the women’s 800m with a time of one minute, 57,23 seconds at that Olympic Games, her season’s best.