Semenya urges fans to not miss out on Olympics final

Caster Semenya will run alongside seven other female athletes at 2:15am (SA time) in the 800m finals.

FILE: South Africa’s Caster Semenya. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - Caster Semenya has called on South Africans to rally behind her as she takes to the tracks tomorrow in the women's 800m finals in the 2016 Rio Olympics.

The Limpopo-born star will run alongside seven other female athletes at 2:15am South African time, hoping to bring home the gold medal.

Earlier today she took to Facebook to remind her fans not to miss the race, saying "My fellow supporters it's that time of the championship."

Semenya won the third of three semis in the fastest time of the night, 1:58.15, on Friday to advance to the finals.

Although she is not very set on breaking records in these Olympics, experts and the rest of the world are looking forward to see if the South African will break Czech Jarmila Kratochvilova's 1983 mark of 1:53.28.

After her Friday win, she again took to Facebook to show her fans gratitude for their support.

GENDER UNDER SPOTLIGHT

Since last week, the hashtag #HandsOffCaster has trended widely on social media after international media questioned whether Semenya should be competing with other women.

The former world champion has what has been identified as intersex conditions, including having high levels of testosterone.

Six years ago, the International Association of Athletics Federations subjected Semenya to gender tests but she has since been cleared to compete, as a woman, by the athletics body.

Semenya has done nothing but embrace the criticism and allowed it to build her.



MESSAGES OF SUPPORT

Cape Town residents are wishing the Olympic athlete all of the best for the upcoming final.

Capetonians have sent their messages of support to Caster.

"We believe in you, just go there and represent us and all the best," One resident said.

One woman said, "Regarding what is happening at the moment, all the fuss about her gender, I wish her all the best."

"I hope she breaks the record," a Cape Town man said.

Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula said all South Africans would rally around Semenya in the face of probable criticism in Rio.

"Anything that seeks to undermine the standing of Caster I think is anti-human rights and not worth promotion."

FIVE CASTER SEMENYA FACTS

  1. Semenya's idol is a three-time 800-metre world champion Maria Mutola.

  1. She was on born Mogkadi Caster Semenya on 7 January 1991. She has three sisters and a brother and grew up in a village near Polokwane.

  1. Semenya was studying Sports Science at the University of Pretoria.

  1. Semenya is the South African champion in 400m, 800m and 1500m.

  1. Semenya was South Africa's flag bearer at the London Olympics in 2012, where she won a silver medal in the 800m.

Additional reporting by Reuters.

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