There can never be another me - Caster Semenya

There can never be another me - Caster Semenya

Former South African middle-distance runner Caster Semenya has warned against comparing current athletes with legendary ones.

Despite being hailed as Semenya’s successor, current South African 800m and 1 500m champion Prudence Sekgodiso has been compared to the multiple-Olympic gold medalist. 

However, with Sekgodiso regarded as a promising athlete with a bright future ahead of her, Semenya tells SABC Sport such comparisons can be detrimental not only to the athlete but also to the sport as a whole.

"She can never be Caster, that's the truth. She can only be Prudence. It can only be me. It can only be Usain Bolt. It can only be Michael Phelps. It can only be LeBron [James]," argued Semenya.

"Each and every athlete is the best at what they do, and you can be the best that only you can be. So, comparisons have always killed sports. It's something that, even in debates, you can never win.

"Prudence is the best at what she does, there's no question about it. She can do what she's capable of doing, and I was able to do what I was capable of doing, that's why I was capable of being Caster.

"So, the question is, if Prudence is hungry enough, she'll prove it to herself, not to us. It's not up to us to say, 'Is Prudence the next Caster Semenya?' No, that's the wrong question and I will give the wrong answer."

Semenya’s advice to the 21-year-old rising star is to focus on her athletics and avoid putting unnecessary pressure on herself.

"My advice [for Sekgodiso] would be – set your goals, ask yourself if you are the one. If you are, put in the hard work and say, in the next 10 years, I still want to be running 1:55, and that should be the goal," she added.

"Because the Caster I knew was just like, 'Okay, I ran 1:56 in my first international competition in Mauritius, I want to run better than that in the next 10 years.' So, that should be her mindset."