Tuesday, August 24, 2010

This article irritates me. Here's why:

Trailing American Christin Wurth-Thomas by some 20 metres with just 100 metres remaining, Semenya breezed past effortlessly to win with several strides to spare in a world-class time of 1min 59.90sec.
Yes, it's from the Telegraph, so yes, I shouldn't have even read it.
Most of their submissions irk me. But I'm already in rant mode and there's no off-switch.

1) "It's obviously a human rights issue but human rights affect everyone in the race, not just one person," said Britain's Jemma Simpson, who finished fourth in 2min 0.57sec. "The rest of the field just gets ignored."
Okay, first things first. Jemma came fourth. So apparently she only has grievances with one person who beat her - what about the other two? Is she standing up for fellow athletes, or just irritated because she (personally) has no means of competing with Semenya?
2) "As athletes we feel frustrated because everyone is allowed to give their opinion except us," said [Diane] Cummins. "If we give an honest opinion, we're either seen as bad sports or we're not happy because we're being beaten.”
Diane came 8th. So not only can she not compete with Semenya, she couldn’t compete with most of the field. So yes, Diane. You as a sore loser.
3) She adds: "Even if she is a female, she's on the very fringe of the normal athlete female biological composition from what I understand of hormone testing. So, from that perspective, most of us just feel that we are literally running against a man."
Fair enough. From what I have read in the papers, Semenya does border just on the female side of the chromosomal balance. But I would be very interested to see the results of similar tests for other female athletes, such as Mauresmo, the Williams sisters, a number of female hockey players (certainly the ones I used to play against.. I couldn't keep up with the national players. Hmmm... they must've had male hormones, it can't possibly have had anything to do with my natural talent - or lack thereof) and a few gymnasts to boot.
4) "It is certainly frustrating to be running against someone who seems to be doing it effortlessly," said Cummins. "We all believe that Caster Semenya, pushed to her full potential, could break the world record.”
Sorry, Diane… what was that? You resent her for beating you with ease? All I could hear was - Sore. Loser.
5) "That's [the women's 800m world record] 1:53, and that's what college guys are running. From that perspective, she's far superior to any female 800 metres runner we've ever had."
So what you’re saying, Diane, is that it is physically impossible for top world class female athletes to run against college-level (i.e. second rate) male athletes? Any woman who can do that is clearly a man? But clearly, someone has done it before because the record is there to be broken...
In 1976, a Russian lady called Tatyana Kazankina set the world record at the Montreal Olympic Games in the 800m, running 1:54:94. In 1980 Nadezhda Olizarenko (also from Russia) set a world record and also her personal best over 800 metres with 1:53.43; which record stood until 1983, when it was bettered by Jarmila Kratochvílová.
Kratochvilova entered a one-off 800m race in Munich, reportedly as a training exercise. She broke the world record with a run of 1:53.28 - with ease. At the World Championships 10 days later, she won the 800m easily (in what is still the 5th best time ever in the event). Kratochvílová's 800m time is still the official world record, and is currently the longest standing individual world record in any track and field event.
Several other female athletes who would’ve whipped a few college-level male athletes’ butts before even giving you, Missus I-Came-Nowhere, a second glance. Kratochvilova’s record stood for over two decades without anyone griping about her being a man.
Basically, everything is impossible - until someone proves it otherwise. Breaking the four-minute mile was considered an impossible barrier... until Roger Bannister did it in 1954. Since then, it's become a competitive standard. Surely everyone knows the improbability of Ussain Bolt's records - and he was setting world records in his teens.
Again, I don’t deny or refute that Semenya has gender issues. She has had to undergo serious hormonal treatments and medication, in order to compete on the international field. You can be sure everyone from the officials, to competitors, to the public will be watching every single thing that Semenya ingests, digests and subsequently ejects before race day.
Call me a cynic but it’s no small secret that professional athletes (male or female) do everything in their power to aid their competitive edge. A vitamin here, a blood transfusion there… it seems to me these girls are griping because Semenya has an edge over them naturally (in the loosest use of the term). Unfortunately their performance enhancing efforts can’t get them to the same level as a testosteronerally-weakened Semenya. And they’ve got fat sulky lips about it. Boo. Frikking. Hoo.


Bruce Hall said...

You can go on forever but, It's a battle no one really is going to win. We don't know the full facts about Semenya. She does have an added advantage. You might be on her side, which understandable but is it fair?

kop said...

It's called natural selection (look it up under Darwin), unfortunately the human race hasn't had to worry about this for a long time until now. God forbid, but this may actually be the direction the evolution of women is heading in!

Saskatoon said...

sorry kop, but natural selection rests on the premise of surviving to reproduce - something a woman (of the loosest definition) without ovaries will never be able to do...

also - google images of Jarmila Kratochvilova - something tells me she may also have been closer to a man on the gender spectrum...

Helen said...

I feel really sorry that she was treated so badly. It's not her fault that she was born 'different' and I think the way the media made such a noise about her tests was despicable. Going through something like that must be really traumatic, I can imagine genetic counselling, identity crisis... and having it splashed all over the news like it was must have made it so difficult.

And if the sore losers can't get over the fact that it's really amazing that she has the strength of will to keep competing even while being stared at and scrutinized and judged then I really hope they trip. On gravel.