What is the ultimate difference between a man and a woman?
A REPORTER AT LARGE
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