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Ads We Like: Nike nails it (again) with a rewinding study of embattled runner Caster Semenya

Nike is continuing its run of ads celebrating its ‘Just Do It’ slogan with a campaign celebrating the innate talent of middle-distance runner Caster Semenya, who was subjected to sex testing in 2009.

The International Association of Athletics Federations scrutinised the South African Olympian for her unnaturally quick pace, a talent that was attributed to her high levels of naturally occurring testosterone.

Nike’s latest work twists the questions regarding the fairness of her competing against other women with the statement: ‘When you’re born to do it, just do it.’

The latest film from the sports brand follows Semenya throughout her life: from her first steps as a baby to winning an international race. Yet from the moment her Nike trainer crosses the finish line, the film begins rewinding in slow motion.

Semenya’s journey to gold plays backwards as her voiceover asks: “Would it be easier for you if I wasn’t so fast? Would it be simpler if I stopped winning? Would you be more comfortable if I was less proud? Would you prefer if I hadn’t worked so hard, or just didn’t run? Or chose a different sport? Or stopped at my first steps?

“That’s too bad because I was born to do this.”

Nike hopes the film from director AG Rojas will convey a ‘sense of tenacity’. It will run on South African TV, while global audiences can watch online.

The spot was created by Wieden+Kennedy Amsterdam, which also produced a double-page print ad as part of the campaign.

The latter was printed as a double page spread in The Sunday Times South Africa. The copy, which appears in the wake of Semenya’s speed, reads: ‘Too fast? Too bad.'

The campaign follows on from Nike's flagship work with NFL player Colin Kaepernick. The 'Believe in Something' ads and 'Dream Crazy' film have captured international conversation due to the footballer's part in the controversial 'take the knee' on-pitch activism.

The brand released another set of creative starring tennis star Serena Williams just weeks before.

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