Huge Welcome Home for 'First Lady' Semenya

By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 25, 2009 7:15 AM CDT
Fans of Caster Semenya celebrate after she arrived along with the South African athletics team at OR Tambo airport in Johannesburg, Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2009.   (AP Photo/Karel Prinsloo)
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(Newser) – World champion sprinter Caster Semenya received a heroine's welcome today in Johannesburg, where thousands of South Africans waved signs reading "Our first lady of sport" and "100% female woman." The 18-year-old runner, caught up in suspicions about her gender, had a huge smile as spectators sang and danced around her and her teammates. Her arrival has sparked a media frenzy: the party was broadcast live on TV, and one newspaper ran a wraparound souvenir poster.

Semenya and her fellow medalists are headed to Pretoria, where they will take part in a parade and meet President Jacob Zuma. One physician in the crowd in Johannesburg said, "I think it was unfair. On the date of her final, that is when they decided to test her. There were midwives and parents that raised her. They are undermining South Africa as a country."