Semenya finds it hard to get sponsors, coach says

Caster Semenya is finding it hard to get sponsors despite being a world champion, her coach said on Friday.

"It is tough for Caster," Michael Seme told to reporters. "If you look overseas you will see other world champions featuring in a lot of advertising campaigns and you see their faces up on billboards but that doesn`t happen for Caster."

Semenya, who underwent gender verification tests after winning 800 metres gold at the world championships in August 2009, did not have as much financial backing as she would have liked, Seme said.

Caster does receive help from Nike while the Department of Sports and Recreation and the University of Pretoria help out with her education but there isn`t spare money," Seme said in a telephone interview.

"For instance, if she requires special equipment she can`t just go out and get it."

Reports in South Africa about Semenya`s financial situation have sparked a campaign by a group of fans to raise one million rand ($143,600) for the runner by December.

"People love her," Thobeka Magcai, spokesperson for the campaign told to reporters.

"She has been through such a lot at such a young age and we just want to show our support for her and say that we want to see you back on the world stage, winning medals."

Semenya, who is studying towards a sports science degree at the University of Pretoria, pulled out of the recent Commonwealth Games in Delhi because of a back injury.

"Caster`s treatment is going well and she has just started some light training," Seme said. "But we are taking it slow to allow her back to heal properly."

Bureau Report