Top Billing explores Mozambique with Caster Semenya and Violet Raseboya
Olympic champion Caster Semenya was born to run and in sprinter Violet Raseboya she has found a kindred spirit. Jonathan met the couple on the sands of Mozambique to talk marriage, children and the gold medal every, single one of us is chasing – happiness.
Thick with Casuarina trees and dunes, this stretch of the Indian Ocean coastline borders a wild reserve of inland lakes and canopy forests. Our destination, the White Pearl Resort of Ponta Mamoli, is set in this subtropical garden and for Caster and Violet it was a welcome escape from a year of city hotels and stadiums.
This spa treatment was going to be pure spoiling and Caster has earned it. Late last year she won her third 800 metre World Championship and this year she broke the South African 1000 metre record – adding to the Olympic glory captured in her tattoo. If she and Violet were going to choose anywhere to switch off from athletics for a few days then the staff of this luxury resort were honoured to host them on African soil.
This was something of a honeymoon for Violet and Caster. After a traditional marriage ceremony in 2015 and a white wedding in 2017, they’ve had little down time to relax. The best prawns in the world are a given in Mozambique, and after a siesta that afternoon, it would be a busy evening. Word had got out who was in town and the champion of the Rio Olympics was welcomed like it was carnival time. After a long journey, Violet turned in for the night but Caster stayed up for a special event to which Lourenzo Mpanza was our guide. The beach here at Ponta Mamoli goes on forever but we struck gold when tracks in the wet sand led us to this young mother turtle. As soon as she’d covered her eggs, the turtle headed for her sanctuary in the Indian Ocean. Her secret was safe with us and we called it a night.
As magical as the turtles were, the next day Caster and Violet met with some athletes of the animal kingdom who stole their hearts – and Jonathan discovered how much time both women have for their fellow human beings.
When dawn breaks, you normally find sprinter Violet and middle distance specialist Caster out on a morning run - but for once they could lie in and listen to the sea. When they did wake, wetsuits were arranged, a rubber duck standing by and these athletes were going to find their sea legs.
Watching golf, rugby or Formula 1 on TV is something Caster enjoys wherever in the world she happens to be, but this kind of experience is one which she and Violet are looking to share far more often.
Violet knows her long-time friend and spouse as a fan of all sports. Caster initially began running as part of her training for soccer. The nominee for Laureus World Sportswoman of The Year, is game for trying her hand at everything.
Pushing her boundaries, at the 2017 World Championships, Caster entered the 1500 metres and won bronze on her first attempt.
When Jon challenged the champ, he might have forgotten that she’s currently preparing to take the 800 and 1500 metre golds at The Commonwealth Games in Australia.
From there, we took things easy with the hippos of Lake Hlunguti in the nearby Maputo Special Reserve. With the area home to elephants and 400 species of butterfly, it’s a safari of all creatures - great and small. On the subject of having their own children, Caster would like at least three and with Violet being a twin, they might get a set of twins themselves. Here’s to a healthy, growing family and a few gold medals in between. Now, ladies, back to training please. The Tokyo Games are in 2020 and Caster – you have a title to defend – on behalf of all us couch athletes.