800m star athlete Caster Semenya served plenty of wisdom and inspiration during her appearance at the Top Women Conference on Wednesday.
Semenya, who was a guest speaker at the event, shed light on her journey as an athlete and her contribution to gender empowerment and human rights.
She noted how this month marks 10 years since she won her first world 800m gold medal. She was just 18 years old at the time.
I was one of those girls that had no fear. I believed that everything I touched will become gold.Caster Semenya
Semenya immediately captured the imagination of South Africans and the rest of the world with her seemingly effortless success on the track.
She credited it all to self-belief and “learning to fail forward.”
Success comes with being knowledgeable, having strong beliefs and learning to fail forward. The young generation needs to learn how to build their own personal brand.Caster Semenya
The Olympic gold medalist struck a defiant note as she reflected on the persistent attempts to limit her natural testosterone levels.
She said, “Whoever is going to stop me from running has to drag me from the track.”
She insisted that success in athletics has more to do with hard work, not genetics. She had a word for her detractors:
I am the architect of my career. I am the engineer of my career.Caster Semenya
The talented athlete said retirement is not an option now because she’s just 28 years old and “I still have ten years to run.”
Semenya urged South Africans to make meaningful contributions towards gender empowerment and not just pay lip service.
She was especially keen to inspire young girls, saying, “Tell our girls they can become anything they want to become.”
The two-day conference is being held at Emperor’s Palace in Johannesburg.
Standard Bank is hosting it in partnership with United Nations Women and Commission on Gender Equality.