London 2012: South Africa select Semenya to carry flag at Olympics

South Africa - Team SA at the AAC 2010 in Nairobi / Photo by Yomi Omogbeja (All Rights Reserved)

Former world 800 metres champion Caster Semenya has been selected to carry South Africa's flag at the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games next weekend.

The SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) made the announcement at the South African team's farewell banquet in Sandton on Wednesday night.

Born in the tiny, rural village of GaMasehlong in Limpopo, Semenya won the women's 800m title at the age of 18 at the IAAF World Championships in Berlin, Germany, in 2009.

More recently, she powered her way to the silver medal at the 2011 World Championships in Daegu, South Korea.

"Caster is an absolute role model for all sportsmen and women in South Africa," said Sascoc president Gideon Sam.

"She's proved herself to be an absolute inspiration in the face of adversity and we are sure that this inspiration will rub off on each and every member of the Olympic squad."

Semenya, who was cleared to run against women in 2010 after an 11-month gender controversy, was selected as the flag bearer ahead of 'Blade Runner' Oscar Pistorius, who will make history in London as the first amputee to compete on the track at the able-bodied Games, and long jumper Khotso Mokoena, the country's only medallist at the 2008 Beijing Games.

Another amputee, open water swimmer Natalie du Toit, was the first woman to carry South Africa's flag when she was chosen to lead the team around the track at the opening ceremony in Beijing.

Marathon runner Jan Tau was South Africa's flag bearer when the country returned from isolation at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona.

He was succeeded by boxer Masibulele Makepula (Atlanta 1996), and middle distance runners Hezekiel Sepeng (Sydney 2000) and Mbulaeni Mulaudzi (Athens 2004).

(SAPA is the South African Press Association)

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