Entertainment

Caster Semenya wants to inspire resilience with memoir published by Merky Books

She won the 2009 World Championships in Berlin at the age of 18.
She won the 2009 World Championships in Berlin at the age of 18. She won the 2009 World Championships in Berlin at the age of 18.

Middle-distance runner Caster Semenya has said she wants to show people around the world her “strength, courage, love and resilience” in a new memoir.

The Race To Be Myself, which is being published by #Merky Books, will see the South African Olympic and World Champion share her story of when she became the focus of a debate around her gender more than a decade ago.

In the same year that she won the 2009 World Championships in Berlin at the age of 18, the International Association of Athletics Federations ruled she had to undergo a sex verification test.

She announced in March 2010 she would return to athletics and two years later went on to win the 800m silver at the 2012 London Olympics, which was later upgraded to gold.

While speaking about the book, Semenya said: “My life has had its struggles, but it has mostly been a joy. Through my example, I want to educate, enlighten, and inform about how the world can welcome those born different.

“You may have heard some of my story over the years, and you might have seen me running or standing proudly on the podium at the Olympics.

“But there is still so much I need to relate about strength, courage, love, resilience, and being true to who you are.

“I want this book to show people around the world how to do just that.”

The 32-year-old’s book is described as a look at her private life behind closed doors, her struggles and a journey through Semenya’s years as an athlete in the public eye.

During her return to running, she also won the 800m at the 2016 Rio Olympics as well as World Championship golds in 2011 and 2017.

However, following a rule change by governing body World Athletics, she is currently not allowed to compete in events between 400m and a mile without taking testosterone-reducing drugs.

The regulations mean women born with certain, rare genetic conditions – which can result in them having partially developed male sex organs – must reduce their naturally-occurring levels of the primary male sex hormone testosterone to a level closer to the normal female range.

In September 2020, she lost her appeal to the Swiss Supreme Court against the World Athletics regulations which restrict testosterone levels in female athletes, and in 2021 she said she made an application to the European Court of Human Rights.

Senior commissioning editor at #Merky Books Lemara Lindsay-Prince said: “I’ve always admired Caster Semenya’s journey as an extraordinary athlete and iconic activist, incredible pioneer and unfortunate pariah.

“Her fight to run as she is a race for respect, justice and ultimately everyone who has ever been told no and prevented from doing the thing they love. This book is her setting the record straight and owning her entire story.

“It’s unflinching in its honesty. Empowering in its tone, and captures the full scope of her life – from a little girl running in the dust, to a record-breaking athlete running to be free.”

Stormzy launched his own publishing imprint #Merky Books, a collaboration with Penguin Random House, five years ago.

It has previously published That Reminds Me by Derek Owusu, Taking Up Space: The Black Girl’s Manifesto For Change by Ore Ogunbiyi and Chelsea Kwakye and Calum Jacobs’s A New Formation: How Black Footballers Shaped The Modern Game.

The Race To Be Myself will be published in the US and UK on October 31.