Semenya knew she would win

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    Amid controversy about her gender, 800m gold medal winner Caster Semenya was giddy on Tuesday recounting how she knew she would win her event at the world championships in Berlin.

    "I took the lead in the 400 metres and I killed them, they couldn't follow. I celebrated the last 200 because I knew, man," she told journalists in Pretoria after meeting President Jacob Zuma.

    Semenya won the race in 1 minute 55.45 seconds, the world's best time in 2009.

    She appeared shy and introverted during Tuesday but came out of her shell when asked to describe her win.

    "It was pretty good to win a gold medal and bring it home. For the first time in my life, the experience, man, the world championships, seniors, I couldn't believe it."

    Her Kenyan competitor's fall in an earlier race, which nearly brought her down too, had distracted her, but in the semi-finals her coach told her: "You know girl, you can do it.

    "Before the final he ... said 'in the last 200 kill him'," at which she laughed and shyly smiled.

    Zuma, calling her a "golden girl", earlier said rumours about Semenya's gender were wrong and ill-spirited.

    Her win showcased women's achievements, power and strength.

    "Miss Semenya had also reminded the world of the importance of the right to human dignity and privacy which should be enjoyed by all human beings."

    In recognition of the supremacy of these rights, the government wished to register its displeasure at the manner in which Semenya was treated.

    Zuma said Sport and Recreation Minister Makhenkesi Stofile had written to the International Association of Athletics Federations, which decided that Semenya should undergo genetic testing.

    He said the ministry would follow up on the matter.

    "It is one thing to seek to ascertain whether or not an athlete has an unfair advantage over others, but it is another to publicly humiliate an honest, professional and competent athlete," he said, extending his support to Semenya and her family.

    "Continue to walk tall mokgadi, we are proud of you, we love you. These events should not distract us from celebrating your outstanding achievements on the track."

    Zuma said the rumours were "wrong" and dampened the spirit of the young people.

    "It was started deliberately to cause a kind of confusion and dampen the spirits of the country unnecessarily."

    When asked about reports that the rumour emanated from South Africa, Zuma said: "If it did, those South Africans are really not demonstrating their patriotism to a serious degree."

    He also urged the media to quell "detrimental" coverage and "put and end" to the rumours.

    "You shouldn't be part of it from now on," to which the families of the athletes clapped loudly.

    "Tell the country, the rumour is wrong, put the record straight."

    He also congratulated fellow medallist Mbulaeni Mulaudzi who won gold in the men's 800m and Khotso Mokoena who took silver in the men's long jump.

    When asked how Mulaudzi felt about his victory he said he knew he had to "control the race".

    "I knew I was going to win that one," he said. - Sapa

  • Join the Caster Semenya support group on Facebook

  • Gallery: Caster Semenya arrives back home


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