London 2012: Caster Semenya to carry South Africa’s flag at opening ceremony
South African Olympic committee chief executive Tubby Reddy said his body also had considered 400-meter runner Pistorius, who is set to make history as the first amputee runner at the Olympics after being named as a last-minute addition to South Africa’s team this month.
Natalie du Toit, an Olympic swimmer who lost her left leg in a motor scooter accident, carried South Africa’s flag at the 2008 Beijing Games and that year’s Paralympics.
Van der Burgh, a world champion breaststroke swimmer, and 2008 Olympic silver medallist long jumper Mokoena also were in contention to carry the flag in London, Reddy said.
“Look, there were a few athletes in the reckoning, we just felt that Caster Semenya would be the ideal choice,” Reddy said. “She’s been a world champion and we expect her to win the gold medal. She was very excited and surprised.
“If we chose Oscar and not Caster, there would have been other theories. I think we’re blessed to have so many icons.”
Semenya underwent controversial gender tests in 2009 as she exploded onto the international scene as an 18-year-old by winning the world title at the worlds in Berlin.
She was sidelined for 11 months while the IAAF reviewed those tests before being cleared to run again in 2010.
Semenya finished second in the 800 at the worlds in South Korea last year despite struggling with injury for most of 2011 and is one of her country’s top medal hopes in London alongside Van der Burgh and fellow swimmer Chad le Clos.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press
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