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South Africans rally for runner in controversy

South Africans rally for runner in controversy

South Africans sang, hooted and danced their support for champion runner Caster Semenya, who is embroiled in a gender controversy, as they waited for her to return home Tuesday.
The mother and father of Semenya _ who is undergoing gender testing after questions arose about her muscular build and deep voice _ were among some 1,000 fans at the Johannesburg airport Tuesday morning as the board showed the flight from Germany had landed.
Semenya, who took gold in the 800 meters, was returning with the other South Africans who had competed in the world track championships in Berlin. Her mother, speaking in Pedi, told journalists she was proud _ and South Africans who do not personally know the 18-year-old said the same, brushing aside questions about whether she should be able to compete in women's races.
Fans organized by women's rights and political groups and school sports teams, and some who came on their own, ringed the balcony overlooking the arrivals hall. Others danced, sang or blew the plastic horns known as vuvuzelas more commonly seen at football matches.
Yvonne Maake, a 21-year-old holding a mini vuvuzela and wearing a yellow Team South Africa jersey, said she came with her family from nearby Tembisa "to welcome our champion, Caster. We want to show her support and that we love her, so she can be proud."
Sewela Mabusela, an education specialist from the University of Zululand, was on her way to Belfast, and glad her trip coincided with Semenya's return. She balanced on a stack of luggage on a trolley to get a better view.
"I want to see her, I want to hear how she feels," Mabusela, 40, said. "I want to see interviews with her so she can tell her side of the story about what happened."
A homemade poster held by another fan declared Semenya "our first lady of sport."


Updated : 2021-04-21 14:09 GMT+08:00