#HandsOffCaster: South Africans rally behind Semenya amid gender criticism

South Africans have taken to social media to defend their star with the hashtag #HandsOffCaster.

FILE: Caster Semenya. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - South Africans have rallied behind middle-distance runner Caster Semenya after some international media questioned whether she should be allowed to run alongside other female athletes.

In a _Sports Illustrated _article, the journalist said Semenya "will win a gold medal" come 20 August in the women's 800meters race at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Semenya has what has been identified as intersex conditions, including having high levels of testosterone.

Other reports have gone as far as quoting sources saying "a victory by South African [Semenya] in middle-distance running would trigger a feeding frenzy among the other countries to scour for female athletes with high level of testosterone."

South Africans have not taken kindly to these and other comments and have taken to social media to defend their star.

The hashtag #HandsOffCaster has been alive on Twitter throughout the weekend and is most likely to gain momentum in the lead up to her upcoming race.

GO FOR GOLD SISI South Africa is behind You. Show them why they should scared of YouπŸšΊπŸ…πŸ•ͺπŸ’ͺπŸ’ͺ #HandsOffCaster

  1. This forces sporting bodies to confront this matter across ALL sporting codes. Where is she to compete? She is not a man. #HandsOffCaster

"No male athlete ever has had to deal with this kind of gender-specific shaming" #Olympics #runners #HandsOffCaster https://t.co/cP5gWPMMYC

We know you will raise the #SouthAfrican flag high. #IamCasterSemenya #HandsOffCaster. @ANN7tv #Toyota #Rio2016 pic.twitter.com/xNKhm38EIE

#HandsOffCaster a picture (or two) paints 1000 words. https://t.co/9oq29z7PJE

Nothing but love for you! @caster800m #HandsOffCaster https://t.co/WUGy3X6Nsp

It's amazing how people are so threatened by this young woman. #HandsOffCaster asseblief tog. Mzantsi athletes rock pic.twitter.com/1E2vUmakeB

There is no position without opposition, you are highly favored and blessed! ❀️ go show them flames mkhaya @caster800m #HandsOffCaster #Rio

Chatted to @caster800m. She is in a great space and really appreciates all our support. Let's keep it coming! #HandsOffCaster #TeamCaster

They fear her greatness so they ridicule and humiliate her to discourage her!! #HandsOffCaster #LerHerRun pic.twitter.com/CYUaoyIQyN