Olympic silver medallist Caster Semenya has defended herself against allegations that she did not try to win the 800 metres at the London Games on Saturday.
The South African, who was forced to undergo gender testing after her 2009 world championships triumph, started poorly in the final, sitting at the back of the field until she produced a late burst to finish second, leading to speculation by three-times world 110m hurdles champion Colin Jackson that Semenya had deliberately avoided winning so as not to stir up fresh controversy like that in 2009. "I tried my best, whatever people say. There is always talk but these people know nothing about athletics," said Semenya on Tuesday, where she received a heroine's welcome.
South Africa's sports minister Fikile Mbalula said Semenya was an inspiration to those from similarly modest upbringings: "She showed the greatest guts of a young African woman. She has toiled out of difficulty to become a symbol of greatness and has shown that it doesn't matter where you come from. From her small village in Limpopo, where the people are full of poverty, she has become the symbol of a courageous young woman."
Semenya, who clocked one minute 57.23 seconds in the final, said she was satisfied with a silver medal but would be looking to go one better in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
"I am happy with silver but it was hard work. I said to myself that I must get something from the race and I saw that the other ladies were tired. I had to pull out my turbo-boost," she smiled.