By THABISILE MASIMULA
AT LAST someone heard the cry of the 19-year-old 800m champion, Caster Semenya
The news that the South African Golden girl is without a sponsor has touched many, but only few good Samaritans have come out with ideas to raise funds for the Limpopo-born athlete.
It is rather ironic that most companies are not willing to sponsor Semenya despite the fact that she has been cleared to compete with women as she is a woman afterall. This is contrary to what happened amid her partcipation in Berlin last year when companies came flocking.
Since the dark cloud which was hanging over her due to questions about her gender and bad publicity on her, most companies stepped back and now Semenya find it difficult to attract any.
Caster has been cleared to compete as a female athlete; she should get the opportunity for sponsorship.
On the other hand, the Golden Girl missed the Commonwealth Games as a result of an injury while at the same time struggling to get herself a sponsor to keep her running.
On the brighter side of things, Semenya met with the social network, Facebook group which intends to sell T-shirts and hold mobile car washes for cash – an unthinkable but hopefully helpful situation for a world champion athlete to turn to.
The campaign was started by Thobeka Macgai and her brother Clement after seeing an interview where Caster pleaded with the public to come to her rescue and was immediately triggered to do something to help raise funds for the athlete.
“We thought, why not try and assist her? She is South African and she represents us”, said Thobeka.
Although it is a good start for the World Champion, this is far from the professional sponsorship deals that Semenya is used to since they (Thobeka and Clement) are yet to raise money to print the T-shirts that are to be sold. That is still not enough though.
In the meantime, Semenya depends on the donation from the South African government, while a sportswear company, Nike provides her with running attire, and the University of Pretoria pays her tuition fees and the use of training facilities from the University.