Sports, sex, and the runner Caster Semenya - The New Yorker

Sports, sex, and the runner Caster Semenya - The New Yorker...

Info iconThis preview shows pages 1–3. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
What is the ultimate difference between a man and a woman? W A REPORTER AT LARGE EITHER/OR Sports, sex, and the case of Caster Semenya. by Ariel Levy NOVEMBER 30, 2009 hen people in South Africa say “Limpopo,” they mean the middle of nowhere. They are referring to the northernmost province of the country, along the border with Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique, where few people have cars or running water or opportunities for greatness. The members of the Moletjie Athletics Club, who live throughout the area in villages of small brick houses and mud-and-dung huts, have high hopes nonetheless. One day in late September, twenty teen-age athletes gathered for practice on a dirt road in front of Rametlwana Lower Primary School, after walking half an hour through yellow cornfields from their homes, to meet their coach, Jeremiah Mokaba. The school’s track is not graded, and donkeys and goats kept walking across it to graze on the new grass that was sprouting as the South African winter gave way to spring. “During the rainy season, we can’t train,” said Mokaba, a short man wearing a brown corduroy jacket with a golden Zion Christian Church pin on the lapel. “We have nowhere to go inside.” For cross-country, Mokaba and his co-coach, Phineas Sako, train their runners in the miles of bush that spread out behind the track, toward the mountains in the distance. The land is webbed with brambles, and the thorns are a serious problem for the athletes, who train barefoot. “They run on loose stones, scraping them, making a wound, making a scar,” Sako, a tall, bald man with rheumy eyes and a big gap between his two front teeth, said. “We can’t stop and say we don’t have running shoes, because we don’t have money. The parents don’t have money. So what must we do? We just go on.” The athletes and their coaches apologized for not having a clubhouse in which to serve tea. They didn’t like talking out in the wind and the dust. There was music playing down the road at a brick-front bar, and chickens squawking in people’s front yards, where they are kept in enclosures made out of tree branches. “The most disadvantaged rural area,” Sako said, laughing
Background image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
a little and stretching his arms out wide. “That is where you are.” The fastest runner in the club now is a seventeen-year-old named Andrew who recently became the district champion in the fifteen-hundred-metre event. The average monthly income for black Africans in Limpopo—more than ninety-seven per cent of the local population—is less than a thousand rand per month, roughly a hundred and thirty-five dollars. (For white residents, who make up two per cent of the population, it is more than four times that amount.) “I think I will go to the Olympics,” Andrew said, with conviction. Joyce, a tiny girl in a pink sweater who is eighteen but looked much younger, was similarly optimistic. “I want to be the
Background image of page 2
Image of page 3
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

This note was uploaded on 09/08/2010 for the course BIOL 140 at San Jose State University .

Page1 / 12

Sports, sex, and the runner Caster Semenya - The New Yorker...

This preview shows document pages 1 - 3. Sign up to view the full document.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Ask a homework question - tutors are online