JOHANNESBURG, August 20 – South Africa's ruling party Thursday annointed new 800-metre world champion Caster Semenya as the nation's "golden girl" while condemning speculation on the runner's gender.
The African National Congress called on South Africans to "rally behind our golden girl and shrug off negative and unwarranted questions about her gender," said ANC spokesman Brian Sokutu in a statement Thursday.
"Caster is not the only woman athlete with a masculine build and the International Association of Athletics Federation should know better."
Semenya, 18, won the 800-metre race in 1minute 55.45seconds in Berlin Wednesday, shortly after the IAAF announced she would have to undergo a gender test.
"We condemn the motives of those who have made it their business to question her gender due to her physique and running style. Such comments can only serve to portray women as being weak," Sokutu said.
"Not only has 18-year-old Caster made her family proud but the entire country — a boost for athletics. Her determination to succeed in becoming a world-renowned athlete has made Caster a role model for young athletes."
The government’s ministry of women also praised Semenya.
"Semenya’s outstanding success despite negative media speculation about her gender demonstrates her determination and resolve to succeed," the ministry said in a statement.