Beaten Semenya thanks Mandela for his support

In victory in Berlin two years ago, Caster Semenya was denied the opportunity to bask in the glow of her success in the World Championship 800m final by the storm about her gender that broke just before the two-lap race. In the home straight in Daegu yesterday, the 20-year-old South African was denied the gold medal when Mariya Savinova of Russia shot past her in stunning fashion.

Savinova had done much the same to Britain's Jenny Meadows at the World Indoor Championships in Doha in March last year. Yesterday, the 26-year-old left the muscular Semenya powerless to respond, winning by 0.48sec in 1min 55.87sec.

"Silver is good for me," Semenya insisted. "If you saw my races three months ago, I wasn't in good shape. So this, for me, is a great achievement. I was doing this for Nelson Mandela. He is a very good man and he gave me good advice. He said, 'Just toughen up and face the world.' I have to go visit him again now. When I get back home, I will go straight to him.

"Normally I don't talk about what happened in the past. I'm still young and I have to focus on the future. Every human being has ups and downs."

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