Olympic Gold medalist, Commonwealth Games champion, and Discovery Vitality Ambassador, Caster Semenya, talks about women taking their place in sport – and in life – at the Discovery Leadership Summit 2018 in Sandton today.
Caster Semenya, in an interview with media personality Redi Tlhabi, said the empowerment of young people and women was close to her heart because of the obstacles she has had to overcome to achieve every dream she had for herself. “We as women, we need to stand together. Men get a lot of things done together, but as women, we lack support. We must be more organised, to make it easier for each other. Instead of complaining about transformation, we must be transformative.”
Semenya said, “I knew from age four that I was going to be great, especially in sport. I never knew I would be where I am today, being able to touch the lives of young girls and boys. It is a process, and it starts with how you're being raised. My parents knew I was a special case, and I was loved. I accepted myself because of that love. Then I had to work hard. Young people first, they need to know their motto. What do they stand for, what do they want to do with their lives? You can do anything, especially if you are educated. Knowledge is very, very important.”
Semenya highlighted the importance of knowing one’s goals and working towards achieving them. “There is no way men will do this for us... they want to lead. We need to gather and fight together, for each other. We, as women need to know how to build ourselves up. What is it that you want? Do we know what a contract is, what is licensing, how to build a brand, how to be marketable? If we don't understand and help each other to understand, we will fall apart,” she said.
Despite recently completing her sports science degree, Semenya said the track was easy to navigate, but university was not. “For being a fighter, I was prepared. I know how people have looked at me, that they talk about my deep voice. I am who I am. Those words can never hurt me. It's very simple. If you know who you are and what you want in life, you appreciate yourself and love yourself. But at university level, I was not prepared,” she laughed. “The education system in the village and going to university with Model C students... I didn't want to speak English in case they laughed at me. But you learn, for me, every day is a learning curve and I want to learn, to be knowledgeable.”
Tlhabi commented on the Nike advert in which Semenya affirms her space as an athlete despite scandals around her eligibility to compete, which ends in her saying: “Would you have preferred if I stopped at my first steps? That's too bad. I was born for this.”
Semenya concluded, "Build your brand, first, then know your worth. Be patient, Rome was not built in a day. I know I am a talented athlete. Show the world what you are made of. Know where you're coming from and your destination, where you want to be. I know that nothing can disturb me, no matter how hard it is."
Discovery Limited is a South African-founded financial services organisation that operates in the healthcare, life assurance, short-term insurance, savings and investment and wellness markets. Since inception, Discovery has been guided by a clear core purpose – to make people healthier and to enhance and protect their lives. This has manifested in its globally recognised Vitality Shared-Value insurance model, exported to over 19 countries and reaching over 11 million members. Discovery trades on the Johannesburg Securities Exchange, with a market cap of $7 billion.
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