A hero's welcome for Caster

Tuesday, August 25, 2009
By: 
Chris Bathembu

Johannesburg - South Africa's golden girl, Caster Semenya and her team mates, have received a hero's welcome from the hundreds of people gathered at OR Tambo International Airport.

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 touched down in Johannesburg on Tuesday 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.

Chaos erupted among the hundreds of sports fans who had descended on the airport to get closer to Caster as she entered the arrivals hall. People pushed through police barriers and shoved to catch a glimpse of her.

Police had to hold onto the athlete as she was whisked away to an informal stage where the team was given messages of support by Ms Mayende-Sibiya and the ANC Youth League's Julius Malema, among others.

It was an emotional home coming for Caster as her triumphant performance in Berlin was nearly overshadowed by a row over her gender.

Athletics South Africa and Caster are expected to brief the media shortly before the team departs for the Presidential Guesthouse where they will meet with President Jacob Zuma.

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