Caster Semenya — the 28-year-old cisgender lesbian South African runner and Olympic gold medalist who has spent most of her pro-sports career fighting to compete as a woman despite her high testosterone level — recently joined the JVW Football Club in the South African Football Association SASOL League, but she made clear that she’s not quitting running.
She has been training with the club in eastern Johannesburg and will be eligible to play games starting in their 2020 season.
Semenya said on the club’s website, “I am grateful for this opportunity and I appreciate the love and support I already get from the team. I am looking forward to this new journey, and hopefully I can contribute as much as I can to the club.”
Former JVW player Janine van Wyk — who recently transferred to the Danish club Fortuna Hjorring — said of Semenya, “I am extremely elated to have such an iconic athlete join my football club. I am absolutely honored that out of all the other women’s clubs around the world, she has chosen JVW as the club where she would like to start showcasing her football skills.”
Happy to announce my signing with @jvwgirlsfootball for 2020 season. Looking forward to this journey. pic.twitter.com/9Urd7aQ3NF— Caster Semenya (@caster800m) September 6, 2019
The Associated Press has taken Semenya’s newfound interest in soccer as a sign that she has “had enough.” The AP writes, “[Semenya] will seemingly be focusing on a new career at home in that sport instead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, where she had a chance to win a third successive gold medal in the 800 meters.”
Semenya is currently fighting a case against the Court of Arbitration for Sport after it approved the International Association of Athletics Federations’ new testosterone limit for female athletes which would require Semenya and other athletes like her to take drugs to lower their testosterone levels.
Having taken such drugs from 2010 to 2015 just to compete internationally, Semenya has refused to do it again.
“Testifying at sport’s highest court, Semenya described how the medication caused a myriad of unwanted side effects like weight gain, fevers, a constant feeling of nausea and abdominal pain,” the AP wrote.
In a recent tweet, Semenya wrote, “Being a footballer doesn’t mean I’m no longer a track and field athlete. Just making things clear.”