Medalists land at OR Tambo

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Pretoria - The country's three medalists have landed at OR Tambo International Airport.

A large crowd has gathered at OR Tambo International Airport and there is an atmosphere of fanfare and excitement.

Eighteen-year-old 800m gold medalist Caster Semenya, men's 800m gold medalist Mbulaeni Mulaudzi, and the men's long jump silver medalist Kgotso Mokoena have arrived after competing in the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) tournament in Berlin, Germany.

Among those gathered to welcome home the three are Caster's granny and a few ministers, including the Minister for Women, Children and People with Disabilities Nolunthando Mayende-Sibiya and Social Development Minister Edna Molewa.

The three will leave OR Tambo International after a press conference, thereafter; they will be taken to the Presidential Guesthouse in Pretoria, where President Zuma will welcome them.

The City of Tshwane is expected to come to a standstill as an entourage of women bikers then escort the three athletes through the City.

The City has organized a parade for the three to welcome them after their feat at the championships. They will parade through a few streets, led by the bikers and finally arrive at Church Square where a huge crowd is expected to be gathered, to welcome them.

Caster's masculine build and her rapid improvements in performance have led to doubts about her gender.

However, the South African public and various sectors have largely expressed outrage at the allegations, with even government ministers speaking out against the controversy.

On Sunday, Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma said South Africans should give Caster a heroine's welcome when she touches down.

"To us, Caster is simply the best 800m woman World champion and must be given a heroine's welcome upon return to South Africa on Tuesday," the minister said in a statement.

"All of us South Africans, especially women, must rally around Caster and reject with the contempt it deserves the insinuations being made about her gender," she said, adding that Caster deserved the support of the nation against the "onslaught" waged against her.