November 23, 2020

EastAfrica Herald

East African Views on Global News.

Is She a He? Fury over athlete’s gender at Namboole

As Kenya won the 2012 East African Youth Athletics
Championships over the weekend, the Semenya phobia gripped athletics fans at
Namboole when a Kenyan 800m gold winner was mistaken for a male.
The muscled and flat-chested Sheila Chepngetich led from the
start of the two-lap race to finish in a time of 2:07:14. Because of her style
of running, some fans started expressing doubt on whether she was really a
girl.


“He is a boy. We have seen and confirmed. Our runners know
her”, claimed one panicky volunteer at Namboole. However, those claims were
ignored as they were never made official. Namboole workers were in another
corner in a heated argument about the runner.
Nalis Bigingo, one of the technical officials in UAF, when
contacted said they cannot act on rumours. “Let the doubters file an official
complaint and the athlete can be taken for testing,” he said.

Chepngetich is a Form One student at Ritura Central
Secondary School in Nairobi.
But Kenya team coach and leader of delegation Japhet Kemey
rubbished the allegations saying it is natural for some female athletes to have
masculine morphology.
“There is nothing strange. Some lady athletes are like men
especially with gym work and training. This is not her first time to be on the
team.
She represented Kenya in the same event in Eritrea last year
and won silver in the 1500m. She was in the World Championships in France and
finished sixth in the same race,” he noted.
He said Chepngetich is a Form One student at Ritura Central
Secondary School in Nairobi. He called on all those in doubt to follow her up.
In August 2009, South African athlete Caster Semenya was
mistaken for a male when she won gold at the World Championships in Berlin in a
world record of 1:55.45.
Her win sent experts and competitors in doubt over her
femininity.
She was withdrawn from international competitions until July
6, 2010, when the IAAF cleared her.
Prominent South African civic leaders, politicians, and
activists termed the controversy racist as well as an attack on Semenya’s
privacy and human rights
Source: New Vision