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50 people that matter 2010 | 50. Caster Semenya

Intersex symbol.

Caster Semenya became world 800m champion at 18.

Rather than adulation and sponsorship deals, her victory led to a ban, invasive medical examinations and a flurry of media reports that she had both male and female sexual characteristics.

Semenya unintentionally instigated an international and often ill-tempered debate on gender politics, feminism and race, becoming an inspiration to gender campaigners around the world.

This summer, she returned to the track at a small meet in Finland and did what provoked the controversy in the first place - she won.


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This article first appeared in the 27 September 2010 issue of the New Statesman, The 50 people who matter