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World champion Caster celebrates 21st birthday

08 January 2012 - 02:13 By ISAAC MAHLANGU
Caster Semenya reached another milestone yesterday Picture: GETTY IMAGES
Caster Semenya reached another milestone yesterday Picture: GETTY IMAGES

ATHLETE Caster Semenya celebrated her 21st birthday in style last night at her home village of GaMasehlong in Moletjie near Polokwane.

The 800m world champion celebrated with family and close friends, including new coach Maria Mutola, herself a former 800m world champion, and poet Mzwakhe Mbuli.

Semenya stormed to the top of the athletics world in 2009 when she cruised to victory at the IAAF World Championship in Germany.

Her victory, however, was marred by questions about her gender.

Last year, after a protracted series of medical examinations, she was given the green light by the International Association of Athletics Federations to compete internationally again.

Semenya returned to the world championships in South Korea last year, where she won the 800m silver medal.

Yesterday scores of people in her village turned out to wish her well for her birthday. Semenya's close friend, Ledile Raseboya, said the star athlete was "very happy" to be celebrating the day with friends and family.

Life has changed for the Semenya family, who used to stay in a mud hut until the Limpopo provincial government built them a new home in recognition of her achievements.