Cape Town – Just hours after grabbing first place in the women’s 800m final, Caster Semenya took to social media to thank God and all her supporters.
"All the glory goes to the man upstairs for giving me strength and guidance… without him I wouldn’t be here," she said on her Facebook page on Sunday morning.
She said she could not find the right words to express her feelings.
"Thank you everyone for supporting me throughout the championship, for showing me love and for believing in me."
Showing her humble side, Semenya first congratulated her competitors after the race and then said on Facebook: "To my fellow South Africans. Here is OUR medal. WE made it!"
Semenya finished in a time of 1:55.28 - a personal best and a new South African record.
Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi received a silver medal and Margaret Wambui of Kenya a bronze.
Semenya has been at the centre of a debate surrounding testosterone levels in female athletes and a Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) decision taken in July 2015 that put a stop to testosterone regulation in female athletes.
On Sunday, support for SA’s golden girl streamed in from all sectors.
Susan Shabangu, Minister in the Presidency responsible for Women, said Semenya had made the country very proud.
Shabangu, President Jacob Zuma and the ANC in Limpopo congratulated Semenya and her fellow athletes who took part in the games.
Sport Minister Fikile Mbalula said he watched the race with the Springbok team after their win against Argentina on Saturday evening.
'She continues to be exceptional'
He met Semenya at the athletes’ village in Rio, together with Team South Africa, and sent messages of support on behalf of South Africans.
"Caster was motivated and in high spirits and assured me that she will make South Africa proud. She did not disappoint, but exceeded our expectations,"said Mbalula.
"She continues to be exceptional, silencing critics with nothing but success and excellence. On the track, she is invincible. It is for all these reasons and more that we are proud to have her as one of South Africa greatest ambassadors in sport."
Zuma said he was immensely proud of Team South Africa for producing 10 medals- two gold, six silver, and two bronze.
"The team has once again put the country on the global map and proved indeed that we are a winning nation. We also thank the people of South Africa for their full support of our athletes," he said.
Mbalalu called on citizens to descend on OR Tambo International Airport’s arrival hall to welcome the team home at 08:30 on Tuesday.