Caster Semenya, the athlete at the center of a gender row, has appeared in a photo glamour shoot in her native South Africa.
The 18-year-old is awaiting the results of a gender verification test ordered by the IAAF, the governing body for athletics, following her triumph in the women’s 800m at world championships in Berlin. Her muscular build and deep voice, coupled with a stunning improvement in performance to win the global title, had led to questions about her gender. It emerged shortly before the 800m final in Berlin last month that the IAAF were conducting tests, sparking a controversy that shows no sign of abating. Semenya appears in a four-page feature in South Africa’s You magazine, occupying the front cover in a tight black dress and necklace, with the headline ‘ Wow, look at Caster now.’ She told the magazine: “I am who I am and I am proud of myself. I’d like to dress up more often and wear dresses but I never get the chance.” Posing in other outfits including black leather trousers and sequined top and a stylish dress, Semenya told the magazine that her mother always buys her clothes, adding “now I know I look like this I’d like to do it more often.”
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The IAAF have confirmed that the results of the complex gender tests would be known in the next two weeks, but would only be released after consultation with Semenya. She has received overwhelming support in South Africa with president Jacob Zuma and other politicians joining the debate. But earlier this week, national track coach Wilfred Daniels resigned, claiming he should have told Semenya in July that she was to undergo tests to determine her sex. Semenya won gold in the fastest time of the year for women’s 800m of one minute 55.45 seconds, finishing several meters clear of her rivals. It remains unclear if she will be stripped of her medal if the gender verification process casts doubt over her sexuality.