Poppy backs running mate

TOP South African athlete Poppy Mlambo last night reacted with shock to reports casting doubts over Caster Semenya's gender.

TOP South African athlete Poppy Mlambo last night reacted with shock to reports casting doubts over Caster Semenya's gender.

"I know Caster and I can tell you without hesitation that she is a woman. I was with her in June when she was preparing herself for a race in England and I can tell you that she is a woman and there is no doubt about it."

Caster's family in Limpopo also insisted that Caster was a woman.

Paballo Choshi, Caster's cousin, who grew up with the athlete in the dusty streets of Masetlhong, in Moletji, north of Polokwane, said there was no doubt that Caster was female.

"Our Caster is a female and there's no two ways about it," said Choshi, who lives at Caster's home.

"We did most things together while growing up. At no stage during our upbringing have we doubted Caster's gender. It came as a surprise when the international (sports) community started raising doubts about her gender.

"Perhaps it's just a question of jealousy over Caster's achievements in Germany."

Choshi said everyone in the village knew Caster as a female.

"The only thing that distinguished her from other rural women was when she started to play soccer. But it was clear at that time that she was a female as she also played with other girls," added Choshi, who was supported by Caster's younger sister Nkele.

Caster's mother, Dorcus, yesterday steadfastly declined to speak to Sowetan, saying she had been advised "not to do so".

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