Thousands of people welcomed South African runner Caster Semenya on her return to Johannesburg airport yesterday, despite a controversy over her gender that marred her victory at the World Athletics Championships.
People sang and danced in the corridors as Semenya worked her way through the arrivals terminal. Fans hung over railings and crowded around windows hoping to glimpse her as she cleared immigration.
Supporters waved home-made placards which read "Our first lady of sport" and "100 percent female woman."
South Africans have rallied behind Semenya in a national show of support sparked by an announcement last week by the IAAF athletics governing body that she would have to undergo a battery of tests to verify her gender.
The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) made the announcement shortly before the 18-year-old powered to a 1 minute 55.45 seconds win in the 800 meters - the world's best this year - in Berlin.