South Africa rugby captain Babalwa Latsha calls Caster Semenya situation 'heartbreaking'

Babalwa Latsha, middle, after South Africa qualified for the Rugby World Cup in 2021 (Babalwa Latsha Twitter)
16:03pm, Fri 08 Nov 2019
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South Africa's rugby captain Babalwa Latsha said what Caster Semenya has had to go through as a woman is 'heartbreaking'.

Semenya, a South African sprinter, is banned from competing in middle distance events at elite level unless she takes testosterone reducing medication due to the athlete possessing a condition called disorder of sex development.

Speaking about the case, Latsha told Thomson Reuters Foundation: “It is heartbreaking what she has been through as a woman.

“Someone of that calibre, with such natural strength and prowess, has had to be curtailed to be herself. She is the best in the world. The world needs to rise up to her level.”

Latsha, alongside championing Semenya's right to run, has spoken about what it is like to be a woman in South Africa, where one woman is murdered every three hours. 

The player said the rugby field is one of the few places that she feels safe in her country.

“No one can attack you on a rugby field," she said. "No man can point a gun at you, hurt you, throw a fist at you. We feel safe there, but we should feel safe everywhere.

“I fell in love with the sport. It gave me a sense of belonging, ownership and power. It is the one place where I can just be myself fully, without worrying who will think what or say what about me.”

South Africa's men's team beat England in the Rugby World Cup final last Saturday and Siya Kolisi became the first black captain to raise the trophy.

Latsha says that their success has 'ignited a flame' in the women's side to do the same in New Zealand in 2021.

Latsha added: “We are created for greatness. [The Springboks’] win has shown us our own dreams are not too big, too wild, too impossible to achieve.”