Semenya ‘honoured’ to be SA flagbearer at Commonwealth Games

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Caster Semenya will be South Africa’s flagbearer at the Commonwealth Games at the Gold Coast, Australia, it was announced at Monday’s farewell dinner for the athletes in Johannesburg.

Sascoc president Gideon Sam said double Olympic 800m gold medalist Semenya will have the honour of leading the team onto the track.

“There are many luminaries in this team but the board of Sascoc have decided that Caster will fly the flag for SA.”

For her part, Semenya was brief but buoyant. “I’m truly honoured and truly blessed. We lead by example… two golds for me!”

Semenya was referring to Sam’s look ahead to possible medals coming South Africa’s way as he urged the team to improve on their seventh-place showing on the medals table at the last Games in Glasgow, Scotland four years ago.

Semenya is entered in the 800 and 1 500m track events.

“We fell from fifth in New Delhi, India in 2010 to seventh at Glasgow and we have to make a top-five place our goal this time out,” said Sam.

In Glasgow, South Africa won 40 medals.

“I’m proud to say we have delivered a team early, which was not easy but we took a decision to put our athletes at the centre of everything.”

Also present was newly elected Sports Minister Tokozile Xasa.

In her address, she added her full support for the team. “It takes years of discipline and sacrifice to get here.”

Sam also urged athletes to be on their best behaviour at the Games as they represented the rainbow nation, saying any member of the team breaking rules and regulations faced the risk of being sent home early.

Team South Africa will head off east on Tuesday although some codes are already in Gold Coast and others will arrive during the Games. The Games will start on April 4 and end on April 15.