When Caster Semenya won Olympic gold last Sunday, the whole country lit up with pride – and its children were no exception. The Daily Vox visited a primary school in Johannesburg and asked a few grade 4s what they think of South Africa’s star athlete.
First, we asked them who Caster Semenya is.
“Sheâ€™s a woman of South Africa, sheâ€™s one of our athletes, sheâ€™s a middle distance runner that runs the 800m. Sometimes she runs the 400m and 1500m. [People are talking about her] because last week in the Olympics, she won a gold medal for South Africa.â€ – Musabbihah, 10
“She is a middle distance runner, she came first place in the 800m and won first place for South Africa.â€ – Dutt, 10
“Caster is a middle distance runner who believes that she can let her dreams come true and nobody can tell her anything. She can fulfilÂ her dreams.â€ – Nooriyah, 9
“Caster Semenya won a gold last week at 2 o’clock. I didnâ€™t watch it [the race], I was asleep, but I heard on the news the next day. I feel so happy because she represented South Africa.â€ – Mariam, 9
What does Casterâ€™s gold mean for South Africa?
“It’s very important for South Africa that she won a gold medal. She doesnâ€™t let us down.
She inspired people to work hard and achieve their goals.â€ – Dutt, 10
“Caster Semenya is a world champion for South Africa because she won a gold medal. Itâ€™s important [for South Africa to win gold medals] because it makes us look famous, I donâ€™t know how to describe it.â€ – Zahra, 10
Can Caster Semenya be a role model?
“Hmm, I donâ€™t know. She likes to run. She doesnâ€™t want to model all around. Sheâ€™s not a show-off, all she wants to do is run and inspire people.â€ – Ahmed, 10
How do you feel about Caster Semenya?
“She means really a lot, she inspired people to be brave. Sheâ€™s brave because her dream was just to run, she didnâ€™t care about the government. All she wanted to do was run.â€- Ahmed, 10
“I felt happy because she represented South Africa, she really worked hard and gave South Africa a good name.â€ – Nooriyah, 9
Yahya, 10, was not too impressed. “I think Wayde van Niekerk is better than Caster Semenya because heâ€™s a boy.â€
But they know that itâ€™s not just Casterâ€™s moves on the track that have put her in the news
“Caster Semenya was the first South African black woman to win a gold medal and she knows that the tests wonâ€™t tell her what to do. She believes that she is a woman and she can race against other women. I believe she is a woman but she kind of looks like a man. South Africa thinks she is a woman and not a man.â€ – Humayd, 9
“Many people said that she is not a woman and she was in fact a man so she had to undergo many gender tests. Itâ€™s not fair because she is herself and she knows if sheâ€™s a woman or a man. She is an inspiration because sheâ€™s courageous and strong.â€ – Ameerah, 10
“I think sheâ€™s a brilliant runner, she doesnâ€™t care about her gender. Sheâ€™s brave and sheâ€™s strong, she comes out, she trains, she wins her races, she doesnâ€™t care about what people say about her.â€ – Yusuf, 10
“Nelson Mandela fought for racial equality and Caster Semenya today is fighting for sports to end their warfare on women, on human biology, that she has fought for seven years. I think that her gender testing wonâ€™t matter if she wins or loses because sheâ€™s not going to listen to anyone who says that she must wait for her test results. All she wants to do is run and win for South Africa.â€ – Zahra, 10.
Stay woke, kids.
Editor’s note: The Daily Vox obtained written permission from the parents of all the children quoted in this piece.