South African runner Caster Semenya (Not a Jew) has been in the news a lot recently. The winner of the 800 meter race at the 2009 World Championship has had her gender questioned. Is she really a he? Or is she... somewhere in between?
But we're not here to discuss Miss (Mr?) Semenya; that's for the tabloids (plus, remember, Not a Jew). We're here to go farther back into athletic history, specifically the 1960 Olympics in Rome and the 1964 games in Tokyo. There, track and field was dominated by a pair of Jewish(!) Soviet sisters, Tamara and Irina Press. Tamara took the gold in shot put in both games, and also won the discus in Tokyo. Irina took the 80 meter hurdles in Rome and added the pentathlon title four years later.
So, should we revel in the athletic prowess of Jewish women? Not so fast. For, as rumors had it, the Press sisters were actually... the Press brothers. And, when gender testing became mandatory, the two disappeared off the sports scene completely.
Well, let's not dwell on the gender of the Press siblings. Especially since Irina joined the KGB after her (forced?) retirement from sport... yes, let's make the matter rest. Were they women, men, hermaphrodites, or just pumped up with steroids? We might never know. But they were Jews. That's good enough for us.
If only it was so easy for Caster Semenya.