Heats of the women's 800m at the Beijing Olympics

My research and public sociology agendas are motivated by my experiences competing for Australia in track-and-field. In 2008 I competed at the Beijing Olympics in the women's 800m, and in 2009 I raced in the 800m and 4x400m at the IAAF World Championships in Berlin. I found myself in the same heat as South African 800m runner Caster Semenya, whose name is now synonymous with the efforts of the IAAF and the IOC to regulate the participation of women with naturally high testosterone levels. The following year I sustained an injury that required career-ending surgery, prompting me to move to the United States to pursue a PhD in Sociology.

I could never have known in 2009 that I would subsequently study the regulation of women with high testosterone. In fact, as an athlete I supported such regulatory efforts. I was, however, completely uninformed about how they were scientifically, legally, and ethically problematic.  My journey to becoming a scholar has involved coming to terms with this moment in my life and contributing to efforts to remove these exclusionary policies from elite sport. 

Heats of the women's 800m at the 2009 World Championships, with Caster Semenya's personal autograph (Semenya is mostly concealed, at the center right).