'Happiness' is key Semenya ingredient
FOR Dorcas Semenya, world athletics champion Caster Semenya's mother, the most important lesson to teach one's children is to always be happy.
"I am a person filled with joy. I am always happy and that is one of the lessons I always teach my children. I am always laughing with everyone. They must also respect everyone," Semenya said.
She was speaking to Sowetan as part of the Thank You Mom campaign in celebration of the 100 days still to go until the opening ceremony of the much-anticipated London Olympic Games.
The campaign honours and celebrates the moms behind the South African athletes who will be competing in the Games by thanking them for all the support they give their sporting children.
Semenya, of Ga-Masehlong, has five daughters - including 21-year-old Caster - and one son.
"My boy, Thabang, is 16 and he throws the javelin at school and we like teasing him about running. Running is not his thing. But we always tell him Caster is a girl and surely a girl can't run faster than he can?"
She said there was no pressure on her other children to be like Caster.
"While growing up she was such a tomboy. She loved playing soccer with the boys. When she went to live with her grandmother she started running seriously.
"She started entering competitions but we never thought it would turn into a career. We are very proud of our child."
Other than her children, Semenya is passionate about being a caregiver.
"I deal with home-based care and I love my job very much. I started doing this job in 2006. I go to people's houses and make sure that they are taken care of. Sometimes we go to the clinic and the nurses teach us how to take care of patients.
"As a result of the demands of my work, I have not been able to go to any of Caster's competitions. But she knows that the family is always behind her.
"Before going to a serious competition she comes home and we wish her luck and tell her to make us proud."
The proudest moment for her was when Caster won the 800m at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin, Germany, in 1min 55.45sec.
"When I saw her running on TV, I was so proud. I have always known that our girl would do it. I am sure she still has it in her to run like in Berlin. She is amazing and I was so happy to see her beat those girls like that," she said.
But after her win, Caster went through the humiliation of gender verification testing.
"That did not matter for me because she is my daughter and I gave birth to her.
"People cannot tell me otherwise. What my baby is and isn't is known by me.
"I just prayed that God would give her the strength to go through the whole thing," she added.
Caster has qualified for the 800m at the Olympics to be held from July 27 to August 12. Today she will compete at the IAAF Golden Spike in Ostrava, Czech Republic, and at the Diamond League meet in Rome on May 31.
Semenya said: "Our girl can do better than she did at Berlin. She is great."