“You are our Golden Girl, your resilience is amazing, and you are an inspiration to us and many athletes. I love you!”
That was how Sports Minister Tokozile Xasa saluted Caster Semenya after the Olympic champion raced to victory in the opening round of the Diamond League in Doha on Friday night.
Semenya has endured one of the most difficult weeks of her career after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled in favour of the IAAF’s proposed regulations regarding athletes with differences of sex development (DSD).
The new rules, which will take effect on Wednesday, 8 May, will see DSD athletes such as Semenya – who compete in events from the 400m to the mile – to take medication to lower their testosterone levels.
The 28-year-old world champion, though, said after producing a superb meeting record of 1:54.98 in Doha on Friday night that she won’t take part in the process, and is backing her legal team to lodge an appeal.
The people of Mzansi cheered her to victory, and Xasa said in a statement that Semenya inspired the nation with her performance.
“Caster Semenya is not deterred by the recent judgement, she continues making us proud as a nation. She is an embodiment of the Olympic motto ‘Faster, Higher, Stronger’, these three words represent a programme of moral beauty,” Xasa said.
“You are our Golden Girl, your resilience is amazing, and you are an inspiration to us and many athletes. I love you! As a nation, we stand behind you Mokgadi.”
As if Semenya hadn’t been through enough, she also said on Facebook before her race that her WhatsApp had been compromised.
“Good day everyone. My WhatsApp has been hacked. If you happen to get/receive a message from me requesting for money. Please do not send any money to anyone. Thank you.”
Athletics South Africa president Aleck Skhosana echoed Xasa’s sentiments.
“Congratulations to a superb performance by Caster, who has once again risen above all challenges to achieve a great result.
“We look forward to many more good performances by South African athletes as we build up to the World Championships later this year at the same venue.”