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South Africa's Caster Semenya wins 800m gold 'hands off'

South Africa's Caster Semenya wins 800m gold 'hands off'

South Africa

South African athlete, Caster Semenya, who has faced a lot of controversy over her gender has won an Olympic gold in 800m women’s athletics in a national record of 1.55.28 on Saturday night.

Semenya missed out on the world record of 1:53:28 but still made her country proud as they expressed support for her on social media with the hashtag #HandsOffCaster.

The silver medal was picked by Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba in 1:56.49 and Kenya’s Margaret Nyairera Wambui took the bronze medal in 1:56.89.

It's not about looking at people, how they look, how they speak, how they run. It's not about being muscular. It's all about sports.

“I have meant a lot to my people. I have done well. They are proud of me. And that was the main focus. I was doing it for my people, the people who support me,” Semenya is quoted as saying.

The 25-year-old was diagnosed with hyperandrogenism suspected to be responsible for her high testosterone levels giving her masculine features.

“It’s not about looking at people, how they look, how they speak, how they run. It’s not about being muscular. It’s all about sports. When you walk out of your apartment, you think about performing. You don’t think about how your opponents look. You just want to do better. I think the advice to everybody is to go out and have fun,” she said.

Since her impressive performance as an 18-year-old in the world championships in 2009 in Berlin which won her gold in 800m, the IAAF and the media has raised a lot of questions.

She underwent tests and after clearance, won silver at the London Olympics. The IAAF further implemented regulations in 2011 making female athletes cap testosterone levels, but was later suspended for two years by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in July.

Caster Semenya told the BBC after her victory that her critics are building her strength: “They’re making you a better person. People should learn how to unite. Sport is all about uniting people and not discriminating. I feel sorry for them.”

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