Caster Semenya inspires young athletes at Wiphold Athlete's Dialogue media training workshop
Caster Semenya took time out of her busy schedule to motivate the next generation of top runners this weekend at the inaugural Wiphold Athlete's Dialogue media training workshop. The double Olympic champion was one of three key speakers including Commonwealth Games silver medalist Geraldine Pillay-Viret and Olympic 400m finalist and Athletics South Africa board member Hendrick Mokganyetsi who spent their time teaching the future champions about how to give good interviews and handle the media spotlight.
"Events like these are important for raising awareness, especially for girls who are coming from disadvantaged backgrounds," said the athlete who was thrust into the media spotlight at just 19 years old when she won her first world 800m title in Berlin in 2009. "That's where I believe we need to emphasize and try to work harder because they don't really believe that they can make it. They feel like their voices cannot be heard," she told Newsroom Africa reporter Khotso Sello.
Reigning SA 800m champion Prudence Sekgodiso, youth Olympian Kayla van der Bergh, 100m and 200m sprinter Shirley Nekhubui, Central Gauteng Athletics runner Farida Zwane as well World Junior Championships 3000m finalist Naledi Makgatha and the girls of the Murray and Roberts Vorentoe Academy were in attendance as they got advice from season performers while receiving training on how to handle the media.
The Cobra's presence at workshop which took place at the Southern Sun Hyde Park was made possible by Wiphold South Africa, a proudly black women-owned investment company which has empowered over 200 000 beneficiaries across the country on the path to wealth creation for 27 years. Having been previously involved with Tennis South Africa, they now see the opportunity to help develop promising young female athletes.
"Ugotshwa usemanzi," said Wiphold Group Chief Financial Officer Nontobeko Ndhlazi. "So the younger they are the easier it is to influence and inculcate the good values and commitment they would need to be successful in their chosen athletic path," she said explaining why the company that first took Semenya under its wing a decade ago chose to be part of an initiative to ready young women for future success.
The sentiments were shared by the Chairperson of ASA's Athletes Commission Mokganyetsi who praised the event saying they hope to host similar workshops in provinces around the country, especially in the rural areas. "We never had this when we were coming up. We were just thrown into the deep end. So this is good and we are happy that a company like Wiphold could be involved. We hope to build this partnership so that more girls can benefit," he said.