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Low-key start for Caster as press behaves

2016-08-17 18:36
Caster Semenya (Gallo)

Rio de Janeiro - Caster Semenya's Rio 2016 campaign is underway, and she got through her first public appearance at the Olympics unscathed on Wednesday. 

Semenya finished first in her heat in a time of 1:59.41 to breeze through to Thursday's (Friday morning, SA time) semi-final in front of a small and subdued crowd at the Olympic Stadium. 

The centre of a debate surrounding 2015's Court for Arbitration of Sport (CAS) ruling that suspended the control of testosterone levels in women athletes, Semenya was then made to walk through the press area after her race. 

There had been concerns beforehand that the 2012 Olympic silver medallist would be attacked by tabloid media at the Games, but she glided through the press room untroubled, flanked by a SASCOC official. 

SASCOC had been inundated with requests for interviews with Semenya in the build-up to Rio, but it is understood that she will not be facing any journalists until after Saturday's (Sunday morning, SA time) final. 

The three medallists from each Olympic event are made to give a press conference following their event final, and that could be the first time in Rio that Semenya is asked to answer questions over testosterone testing and the CAS ruling.

The issue is naturally a sensitive one, and other qualifiers from the 800m heats would also not be drawn into commenting on Semenya or the testosterone debate. 

"I'm not talking about it," heat 1 winner Lynsey Sharp of Britain said bluntly. 

Sport24 also asked Serbian qualifier Amela Terzic to talk about Semenya and whether or not there was a feeling that the real race in the women's 800m was for second, but she would also not engage. 

The Semenya story is one that is certain to gather momentum as she progresses in her quest for Olympic gold. 

Perhaps it is just the calm before the storm, but on Wednesday the wolves were at bay. 

Lloyd Burnard is Sport24's correspondent in Rio de Janeiro for the duration of the 2016 Olympics ...

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