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Caster Semenya goes large online

You know something big is up when a previously unknown 18-year-old South African athlete makes front page news and television headlines around the world a day after Usain Bolt smashes the 100m world record by the largest margin ever. Caster Semenya also happened to be one of the biggest things to happen to online news in South Africa this year. On Thursday, 20 August, almost 80 000 South Africans visited one single sports site to learn more, writes DAVID BROOKE…

Caster Semenya has become a global sensation, from newspaper front pages, to discussions on Sky News and being featured on ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption, usually dominated by baseball, American football or basketball.

And it’s been no different here in South Africa. According to Nielsens, 79 339 South Africans visited the country’s biggest sport website, Sport24, on Thursday 20 August, the day after Semenya’s success in the 800m race at the World Championships in Berlin.

Only once this year has that visitor number been bettered, that being on 29 June, the Monday after the Confederations Cup ended, the Springboks won the second test against the Lions to take the three Test series, Schalk Burger was banned for eye gouging and Peter de Villiers began mouthing off at press conferences. So to say that the Caster Semenya story is big is an understatement!

Sadly, the news is not driven by her success, but rather around the doubts regarding her gender.

Support for Semenya from Sport24 readers was truly overwhelming, although of course there are her detractors. The majority however have placed the blame firmly on the doorstep of Athletics South Africa for not pre-empting the controversy prior to the World Championships by proving that Semenya is indeed a woman.

Given that it is something that has troubled the athlete her whole life, you would think that even an amoeba might have predicted some sort of controversy?

Instead, they let sleeping dogs lie and, as a result, have caused Semenya and her family huge embarrassment on a global scale. The world now has their eyes firmly on South Africa and Semenya. And, yet again, not for the reasons we would want those eyes.

It will have made one company pretty happy though, not that they need more exposure than Mr Bolt has already provided for them, and that would be Toyota. As sponsor of the numbers on every athlete’s chest, they certainly have received some so-called ‚added value‚ .

The top 5 stories about Caster Semenya on Sport24 on August 20:

Caster Semenya Interview

Semenya: What’s the big deal

Dad: Caster’s my little girl

Semenya nails 800m

Caster: Mission accomplished

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