She anticipated important suggestions from her coach and, primarily based on her expertise during the last three, troublesome years, she anticipated some unkind hypothesis about her efficiency within the 800m.
She obtained each.
However she cherishes her Olympic silver medal all the identical. Three years after being pressured to endure gender exams after profitable the world title in a stunningly quick 1 minute, 55.45 seconds at age 18, Semenya is now an Olympic medallist, too.
The South African was sidelined for almost a yr whereas observe and discipline’s governing physique determined whether or not to permit her to compete. She was examined and finally cleared to return to motion in 2010, then was the runner-up finally yr’s world championships.
She got here to the London Video games as a number one medal contender within the 800 and was even given the honour of carrying South Africa’s flag into the opening ceremony.
Unexpectedly, she slipped into final place from the beginning of the ultimate and, even after a quick ending kick from 250m out, left it too late to catch world champion Mariya Savinova, who posted a season’s-best 1 minute, 56.19 seconds to win gold.
“Sadly it was too late. I am pleased with the silver however I do know the coach (Maria Mutola) shouldn’t be actually completely satisfied,” Semenya mentioned. “I attempted exhausting to get again however the physique wasn’t actually on hearth right now. However I needed to struggle.”
It wasn’t her plan to path on the again, however she did not panic when she discovered herself in hassle.
“It would not matter if you happen to’re again or entrance,” she mentioned. “What issues is the way you end your race.”
That is not how some critics noticed it. One TV pundit speculated that Semenya did not go all out for gold as a result of she did not wish to create any controversy.
Semenya bristled when the query was put to her later at a information convention.
“The plan was, like I mentioned, to win a gold,” she mentioned. “I simply made a mistake. A late kick.”
Semenya would not put a lot significance on what’s written or mentioned about her by folks outdoors her assist community, one thing she needed to be taught the exhausting manner. It appeared nothing was off limits when her intimate particulars had been being debated and mentioned on the earth media earlier than she was cleared to return to competitors.
Now she has Mutola, who retired in 2008 with an Olympic gold medal and three world titles to her credit score, in her nook. And on Saturday night time, she had her mother and father – Jacob and Dorcas – within the stadium for the primary time to observe her compete at a significant worldwide meet.
The 80 000-seat stadium, jam-packed with folks cheering raucously on an evening when Mo Farah gained a distance double for Britain and Usain Bolt helped Jamaica set a world report within the 4x100m relay, would have been daunting for the couple from a small, rural village in South Africa’s northern Limpopo province. Judging by the way in which she began, it was additionally daunting for his or her daughter. However the way in which she completed was extra spectacular.
“For me, I really feel very completely satisfied. I do know my mother and father are ready for me, on the market watching me,” Semenya mentioned. “I simply need to make them proud.”
Semenya completed a second behind Savinova, who additionally beat her finally yr’s world championships in Daegu. However the 1:57.23 was her finest time this season.
She flexed her arms in a muscular pose when her time flashed up on the display, then she ran across the observe with a South African flag till she was stopped by an official close to the beginning for the 100ms – there was a medal presentation occurring for the ladies’s hammer.
Not lengthy after, it was her flip to step onto the rostrum. After being offered together with her medal, she flashed an enormous, unselfconscious smile.
“I really feel very proud,” she mentioned. “Sure, I really feel assured. I do know I have never had too good a season the earlier two years however I feel we’re getting there now.
“I am very pleased with silver at my first Olympics. Again on the rostrum. For me it is a profitable profession.”
Earlier within the afternoon, Lamine Diack, the president of the worldwide athletics federation, was requested about Semenya’s profession since her return from a tumultuous, enforced break.
“She’s carried on. We have labored collectively on the issues she’s had, and tried to seek out options,” Diack mentioned. “And now she’s on the world degree and making an attempt to beat the others. I feel she’s doing all she will to win. That is now the life she’s dwelling – she’s an athlete competing like every other.”
Seb Coe, a British distance operating nice who has led the organising committee for the London Video games, was hotter in his recognition of Semenya, saying he was impressed together with her dedication.
“She’s an exceptional runner,” Coe mentioned. “She’s dedicated to her sport, and she or he brings nice dignity to it.”
Now 21 and with none impediments to competitors, Semenya is aware of her Olympic future is in her fingers.
“For now, I simply have to pay attention so I can win the following Olympics,” she mentioned. “I see a fairly good future.”
Along with Mutola, she mentioned, “We simply need to deal with the profession and overlook in regards to the previous.”
“I feel we’ll be higher sooner or later,” she mentioned. “That is what I’ll say for now.”