Shush, you silly twerps

IT IS rather perturbing that South African middle-distance sensation Caster Semenya's great athletic feats at the IAAF World Championships this week have been obscured by a clearly contrived controversy about her gender.

IT IS rather perturbing that South African middle-distance sensation Caster Semenya's great athletic feats at the IAAF World Championships this week have been obscured by a clearly contrived controversy about her gender.

Thankfully this nonsensical off-track distraction did not deter the 18-year-old from clinching the gold medal on Tuesday by winning the 800m event at a blistering pace.

To the Austrialians, whose International Athletics Federations sparked the rumours about Caster's sex, we have this to say: "Shush, mates! She's our golden girl."

We're surely speaking on behalf of many South Africans when we express our pride and joy at Semenya's finest hour.

Disappointingly, though, not even assurances from South African athletic officials - or her father Jacob Semenya, who has said: "She is a woman and I can repeat that a million times" - have apparently been able to sway her detractors.

That said, we're not the least surprised the Aussies are not alone in the league of doubting Thomases, sharing their scepticism with the like-minded in the most unlikeliest of places - Semenya's native country, where the celebration of her world-class forays has been rather muffled in certain quarters.

Typical of South Africans - always suffering from the chronic disease of self-doubt, Afro-pessimism and self-deprecation.

A truism - so debilitating but yet so true - is that South Africans need no enemies to talk their brand down. Without realising it they do it perfectly well themselves.

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