With controversy swirling over her gender, South African teenager Caster Semenya bowed her head to received the gold medal for her 800_metre world title on Thursday as officials and family came to her defence.

The 18_year_old Semenya dominated her rivals to win the 800 by a commanding margin on Wednesday despite revelations that surfaced earlier in the day that she was undergoing a gender verification test because of concerns she does not meet the requirements to compete as a woman.

When asked by a reporter while walking into the medal ceremony how she was feeling, Semenya smiled and said, “Good, man.”
Semenya waved to the crowd as she mounted the podium at the Olympic Stadium to receive her gold medal. Dressed in a yellow and green track suit, she then stood with her hands behind her back and mouthed the words to the South African national anthem as the country’s flag was raised.

Afterward, she flashed a big smile as she posed for photographers with her medal.“She said to me she doesn’t see what the big deal is all about,” South Africa team manager Phiwe Mlangeni-Tsholetsane said. “She believes it is God given talent and she will exercise it.”

About three weeks ago, the IAAF asked the South African athletics federation to conduct the gender test after Semenya burst onto the scene by posting a world leading time of one minute 56.72 seconds at the African junior championships in Bambous, Mauritius.

The teenager’s stunning improvement in times, along with her muscular build and deep voice, sparked speculation about her gender. On Wednesday _ the day of her first world championship final _ revelations surfaced she was undergoing the test. South African athletics federation president Leonard Chuene staunchly defended the teenager Thursday, and insisted Semenya is facing intense scrutiny because she is African.


Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.