Talking Point 23.8.2016 11:20 pm

Open letter to that British loser who moaned about Caster

Marina Arzamasova of Belarus, Lynsey Sharp of Great Britain, Natalia Lupu of Ukraine and Tintu Lukka of India in the women's 800m heats during day 5 of the 2015 IAAF World Championships at National Stadium on August 26, 2015 in Beijing, China. Picture: Gallo Images

Marina Arzamasova of Belarus, Lynsey Sharp of Great Britain, Natalia Lupu of Ukraine and Tintu Lukka of India in the women's 800m heats during day 5 of the 2015 IAAF World Championships at National Stadium on August 26, 2015 in Beijing, China. Picture: Gallo Images

Lynsey Sharp, after your crybaby comments following your sixth place in the 800m final, you opened my eyes – I now realise I’ve missed many opportunities to blame my shortcomings on others.

Lynsey, as the British woman who came sixth in the Olympic final, you will probably now only be remembered for your snide remarks made post-race.

I feel the need to thank you for what you said in reference to the incredible Caster Semenya who won the gold.

Because of you I can now blame my shortcomings on others.

Like my history at centre-back in water polo during high school. I never managed to climb higher than the D team, meaning there were at least three centre-backs better than me playing in these positions.

According to your logic, I should have laid the blame on the A side’s centre-back, as Eugene hit puberty before me. Let’s not think about the fact that Eugene had nothing to do with his progression into adulthood, nor that there were two other centre-back players ahead of me that could also be blamed for my lack of success.

All this time, I just thought I was mediocre and didn’t train enough. But who knew, it was Eugene’s fault all along. Those who hit puberty before an acceptable age should be excluded from sporting activities, perhaps.

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But let’s get to the crux of it, because in truth I want to find out why it is that Caster can be blamed for you coming sixth in the 800m final at the Rio Olympics.

Lynsey, you ran your personal best of 1:57.69, and it still landed you at the near end of the race – a loser as some may describe it. It never looked like you were going to make the podium. Caster ran 1.55.28 to clinch gold followed by Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba and Kenya’s Margaret Wambui.

Fact is, you were fast, sure – just not fast enough.

During that post-race interview, you said: “It is out of our control and how much we rely on people at the top sorting it out. I think the public can see as well how difficult it is with the change of rule, but all we can do is give it our best.”

I am assuming you are referring to the fact that Semenya has hyperandrogenism and that the International Association of Athletic Federations has had to suspend their regulations on hyperandrogenism by order of the Court of Arbitration for Sport because it failed to prove that women with naturally high levels of testosterone have an unfair advantage over you “normal” athletes.

“In the absence of such evidence, the CAS Panel was unable to conclude that hyperandrogenic female athletes may benefit from such a significant performance advantage that it is necessary to exclude them from competing in the female category,” the court’s interim ruling said in an appeal brought by Indian sprinter Dutee Chand, who also competed in the Rio Olympics and didn’t make it past round one with a 100m time of 11.69s.

Some unfair advantage Dutee had. She placed 50th in Rio.

So now to interrogate the logic behind your statement and the fact that you finished sixth. If we had to take Semenya out of the race, you would have come fifth – sure, no argument. But is that what you were longing for? Do you mean that, because of Semenya, your great dream of coming fifth was thwarted?

Was Semenya’s being a professional athlete more acceptable at the last Olympics, simply because she “only” won silver in your home country (yes, I know you’re Scottish, but same difference) four years ago? You didn’t win gold in London in 2012 either, by the way, though I’m sure you’ll recall that. Was that also Caster’s fault?

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DNA is the reason some people are taller than others. Should we take this into account with basketball players? Should these towering chaps be excluded from the sport? Should we prune the abnormally large feet of some champion Olympic swimmers, because appendages that big aren’t fair?

To quote a Pixar movie, if everyone was special, nobody would be. To ensure that everyone is the same, should we do full testing of every athlete in the world, making sure their genetic make-up is that of the “average human being” – nothing untoward about them in any way?

But who wants to throw billion-dollar events in big stadiums to watch average people do average things? Maybe it’s not the Olympics you want us to watch … just people shopping at the mall.

alex

Alex Mitchley