(BBC Online) – South African runner Caster Semenya, whose gender was queried by athletics officials, has defended her looks and taken part in a makeover in a magazine.
Semenya, the 800 metres world champion, posed for the cover of South Africa’s You magazine.
‘I am who I am and I am proud of myself,’ the 18-year-old said.
‘I’d like to dress up more often and wear dresses but I never get the chance,’ she said as she was photographed in several outfits.
The outfits show a softer side of Semenya, who most of the world has seen only in a green-and-gold running outfit and training shoes.
The outfits included black leather trousers with a sequined top, a grey knee-length dress worn with a grey cropped jacket and a black-and-white cocktail dress worn with stilettos.
The controversy over Semenya’s gender has angered many in South Africa, including her family who insist she is female.
Now her makeover has become a talking point since the magazine hit the shelves on Monday.
Listeners have been phoning up radio stations to give their thoughts on ‘the new and improved’ Semenya.
Some felt she should not have compromised while others said it was a ‘great look’.
Semenya, who has said very little about the gender controversy surrounding her, says she is not bothered by the negative publicity following her gold medal at the Berlin World Championships last month.
‘I see it all as a joke, it doesn’t upset me. God made me the way I am and I accept myself,’ she said.
‘I’ve never bought my own clothes, my mum buys them for me, but now that I know I can look like this I’d like to dress like this more often.’
The magazine said it was ‘under strict obligation not to comment’ on the makeover, but said the cover has sparked a lot of international interest.
Another talking point over Semenya is her dramatic improvement since last year, knocking off 16 seconds on her personal best time. She has gone from 36th best junior to fastest senior in a year. That is as big a talking point as questions over her gender.