A lot has been said and written about Caster Semenya's gender issues since the South African teenager won the women's 800m title at the World Athletics Championships in Berlin last summer, but one thing missing in all these media reports is the most obvious of all.
Caster was never a cheat, but she had now become a pawn in the dirty game of politics and racial determination in the post-apartheid South Africa.
The IAAF also said in a statement that "no further comment will be made on the subject until further notice" as their panel of experts are still studying the results of the sex verification tests Semenya underwent in South Africa and Germany and there are ongoing consultations between the parties concerned.
Meanwhile, South Africa's Department of Sport and Recreation has confirmed that Caster Semenya will not be stripped of her title despite the fact she is awaiting the verdict on whether or not she can continue to race as a woman.
The world-wide Athletics family will gather for yet another prestigious celebration when the 2009 World Athletics Gala is held at the Salle des Etoiles of the Sporting Club d’Eté this Sunday 22 November.
Hosted by International Athletic Foundation (IAF) Honorary President HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco and IAF & IAAF President Lamine Diack, the World Athletics Gala will be highlighted by the announcements of the Male and the Female World Athlete of the Year 2009, with the awards presented live on stage.
Following a fantastic year for track and field and a superb edition of the IAAF World Championships in Athletics in Berlin five men and five women are still in contention for the prestigious award.
World Athletes of the Year Finalists
- Kenenisa Bekele, Ethiopia
- Usain Bolt, Jamaica
- Tyson Gay, USA
- Steven Hooker, Australia
- Andreas Thorkildsen, Norway
- Yelena Isinbayeva, Russia
- Sanya Richards, USA
- Valerie Vili, New Zealand
- Blanka Vlasic, Croatia
- Anita Wlodarczyk, Poland
Fresh from their impressive performances at the 16th African Athletics championships in Addis Ababa last week, Kenyan athletes stormed to victories in the 800, 3000 and 3000m Steeplechase at the IAAF Super Grand Prix meeting in Doha, Qatar on a night when David Oliver (12.95 personal best) and Allyson Felix 100m and 400m double in 10.93 and 49.83 respectively dazzle the world with 2008 bests.
Osaka bronze medalist, Richard Mateelong's posted a 3000m s/c win in 8.07.64 (another world lead), NewAfrican champion David Rudisha out-foxed all comers with a 1.44.36 win in the 800m, whilst Augustine Kiprono Choge took the 3000m in 7.32.01 ahead of compatriot Edwin Cheruiyot Soi, Ugandan Moses Kipsiro and another Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge.
African champions Amantle Montsho of Botswana and Olusoji Fasuba of Nigeria suffered from their exhaustive performances in Addis Ababa and could only stumbled home 7th and last in 51.87 in the women's 400m and 6th in the men's 100m with 10.27 respectively.
Last Sunday, Nigeria's female sprinters Franca Idoko and Christy Ekpukpon led all comers home at the DLV Gala classics in Wattenscheid, Germany. Weeks before that Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele smashes the UK's All Comers Record with 7.26.69 in the men's 3000m at the Norwich Union British Grand Prix in Sheffield.
With the World and Olympic 5000m champion, Tirunesh Dibaba already selected to double up in 5000m and 10000m in Osaka, Africa is set to challenge the rest of the world and to once again dominate the long distance races, though Aussie Craig Mottram might have something to say to that.
So what are their realistic chances of podium finishes in Osaka 2007? How many Gold medals do you think African athletes will win at the World championships?
Last Sunday in Sheffield at the Norwich Union Super Grand Prix, I came face to face with the Blade Runner - South Africa paralympic star and double amputee Oscar Pistorius. Chatting with him you get a feeling of his passion to live his life to the fullest. A very simple and extremely polite guy.
I just wondered why so many people especially the arrogant British press refused to give this brave guy a chance to achieve the best he could ever be. Why they are so self preserving and so worried that this guy, born without fibulae in both legs due to a congenital condition, would one day beat their underachieving able-bodied athletes.
Is it petty jealousy? or maybe overzealous xenophobia? I was at the mixed zone after his 400m race, when one disillusioned gentleman who works for UK Athletics gleefully announced the blade runner had been disqualified for running out of his lane in the 400m claiming "now he has nothing to prove" and The BBC also describes him as angry
Looking back at all the fuzz made before the race especially by the tabloid and the tabloidised BBC 606, one cannot but wonder why there was so much attack on the poor guy.
One commentator on BBC 606 known as funkymonkey79 confidently said "his prosthetics must surely give him a advantage other able bodied athletes" without any valid proof, research findings or otherwise.
The only sensible post i could see from the whole lot - all 148 of them- was by a guy known as vertigo_timbo who seems to realise what the original idea of sport was.
He wrote: "the best stories are always a triumph over disaster, the whole idea of the olympics is it's supposed to encourage our kids to take something up and all the multiple benefits this brings. This guy is a real role model for all people not the david beckhams of this world."
I am appalled at today's commercialisation of the sport to the extent people will now do anything to win. That's why people use drugs and cheat. The essence of sport should be to participate and give your best, what follows, triumph or defeat should be secondary.
I am sure the father's of the modern Olympics would also be appalled at what the sport has now become, that in 2007 we are here debating whether a disable athlete should or should not compete at the Olympics if he is brave enough to want to.
Former British Olympian, Steve Cram is not sure Oscar fully appreciates the efforts that have been made on his behalf by the IAAF for allowing him to race against able-bodied athletes while proper scientific research into his blades is carried out.
Cram says, "I also think there's a lot of goodwill for him from other athletes, some of whom were kept out of the races he competed in at the weekend".
Sorry, Mr Cram, Pistorius only occupied a lane - Lane 9 - which is not always available on all the tracks. In any case, there is no reason why the organisers cannot organise a B race for their home athletes like it is done in some other Grand Prix meets.
I also do not think the other athletes really mind because i also spoke with Australian John Steffensen and American Angelo Taylor.
Should Oscar Pistorius be allowed to compete with able-bodied athletes at the Olympics or not? lets have your view.
Watching the first leg of the IAAF Golden League in Oslo two weeks, I was completely astounded to see another Nigerian hurdler in Spanish colours.
This was not Glory Alozie, who ditched the country in 2001 after winning silver medal at the Sydney Olympics, but a young lovely talent - Josephine Onyia.
She came 5th in a modest 12.93seconds , but last week took the women's 100m hurdles at the 46th Zlata Tetra -Golden Spike, IAAF Grand Prix meet in Ostrava with 12.91 seconds.
Nigerian athletics technical director, Sunday Bada could only lament at another talent drain. He described change of nationality as another medal lost at next month's All Africa Games.
Bada told the Nigerian Daily Champion newspapers:
"Our athletes are leaving in great numbers, we must have to stem this trend otherwise that is how we would be losing our best athletics talents."
Onyia, who currently lives and trains with Alozie in Valencia has a season's best of 12.82 seconds over the 100m hurdles with a season's best of 12.82 seconds and will now represent her adopted country in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
So where do Africa go from here? should we simply resign that we will forever be losing our best talents to the developed and richer nations? what do you think is the way forward for Africa?
Take a tape measure, go out onto your backyard or lawn, or any quiet stretch of road or pavement will do, and mark out eight metres and ninety five centimetres (29’4¼”). Pace it out, then stand aside a little, and take a good look at it. And wonder how it’s possible for a man to jump that far, without being born on the planet Krypton!
That distance, and the marginally shorter mark of 8.90m were marked out on the floor of the conference room of the City Hall in Belgrade, Serbia last week.
The stretch virtually covered the width of the hall. And the reason for the display is that the special guests at last weekend’s Belgrade Banca Intesa Marathon were long jumpers par excellence, Mike Powell and Bob Beamon.
And those distances are, of course, the world record that Beamon set in winning Olympic gold in Mexico City in 1968, and the one that broke it, set by Powell in winning the World Championships title in Tokyo 1991.
So can a man really fly!.......Mike Jordan seems to travel in the air, Mike Powell simply glide through, same as Carl Lewis above, but..........