Two-time 800 metres Olympic champion Caster Semenya on Wednesday visited the Bayana Bayana players in France to inspire them ahead of their second Group B match against China in the ongoing FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Semenya won the 2,000m at the Meeting de Montreuil in Paris on Tuesday and dropped by on Wednesday to inspire the squad ahead of their vital Group B clash at the Parc des Princes on Thursday.
"I thought I should come here & show them that we are behind them all the way, if I can win so can they. They must go out there & fight as a team. Being here is a token of appreciation from me to them. They must just be strong," Caster Semenya said in an interview.
Caster Srmenya (right) with Bayana Bayana coach Desire Ellis
Semenya, an XY chromosome athlete with differences in sexual development (DSDs), is currently locked in a battle with the IAAF over rules that prevent her from running her preferred distance races unless she takes testosterone-suppressant medication.
Her stance has made her a hero to many in South Africa and striker Jermaine Seoposenwe believes Semenya’s time with the team lifted their spirit.
Caster Semenya (right) with some of the players
"It was a super cool experience, for me personally I think the struggles that she is going through currently is such an inspiration, the way she is fighting it. I think we can take that fighting spirit she has portrayed in the media and for everyone to see, into the next match," Seoposenwe said.
South Africa lost their World Cup opener 3-1 to Spain on Saturday and they face China today.
Caster Semenya in a pose with the team and their technical handlers