Caster Semenya dreamed of being the greatest. And with the resilience instilled in her by her family and community, she powered her way through the criticism of her doubters, turning the negativity she experienced into positivity. She’s gone on to win Olympic Games Gold and become a national superstar and inspirational role model for all South Africans.
JOHANNESBURG - Caster Semenya grew up in the small village of Fairlie, deep in South Africa's northern Limpopo province.
Her family and her community were very close-knit and taught her the power of self-belief, which has been invaluable in her journey to greatness.
With the resilience instilled in her by her family and community, she powered her way through harsh and hurtful criticism, turning the negativity she experienced into positivity.
Sport was in Caster's blood. Both her brother and her father were footballers, and from the age of four, she joined her cousins on the makeshift football pitch. And that is where she began to run.
In 2008, Caster watched the Beijing Olympic Games on television, and something lit up deep inside her. She knew that was where she wanted to be. Her dream of being an Olympian had been kindled.
Leaving her first love, football behind, in 2007 she began training seriously in athletics, and the following year she made it to the nationals and took home the silver medal.
Caster's running went from strength to strength but not without her fair share of trials and tribulations along the way. After her impressive victory in Berlin at The World Championships in 2008, her critics began to surface.
Her many achievements have come under severe scrutiny and Caster has endured attacks on her identity and violations of her privacy. She has faced harsh and hurtful criticism from fans, media and competitors.
But she stood firm and refused to be beaten, turning any negative energy she experienced into the positive. Her dream of clenching Olympic Games Gold continued to burn brightly.
Then in 2012, Caster proudly stepped out onto the world stage at the Olympic Games in London to win the silver medal in the women's 800 metres, which was later upgraded to gold due to the disqualification of the winner.
She battled through every obstacle en-route to Rio 2016 where she recorded a blistering time of 1:55.28 – taking the gold medal once more. From a South African small village to the top of the podium, unstoppable all the way.
Now Caster's ambitions remain intact, but she has another mission: To help future generations of children discover their own self-belief, and realise their own potential. To chase their dream, no matter what.