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, â€œGood, man.â€
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 countryâ€™s flag was raised.
Afterward, she flashed a big smile as she posed for photographers with her medal.â€œShe said to me she doesnâ€™t see what the big deal is all about,â€ South Africa team manager Phiwe Mlangeni-Tsholetsane said. â€œShe believes it is God given talent and she will exercise it.â€
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 teenagerâ€™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.