Page last updated at 12:41 GMT, Tuesday, 8 September 2009 13:41 UK

Makeover for SA gender-row runner

Caster Semenya's makeover has become a talking point

South African runner Caster Semenya, whose gender was queried by athletics officials, has defended her looks and taken part in a makeover in a magazine.

Ms Semenya, the 800m world champion, posed for the cover of South Africa's You magazine.

"I am who I am and I am proud of myself," the 18-year-old said.

"I'd like to dress up more often and wear dresses but I never get the chance," she said as she was photographed in several outfits.

The BBC's Pumza Fihlani in Johannesburg says the outfits show a softer side of Ms Semenya, who most of the world has seen only in a green-and-gold running outfit and training shoes.

The outfits included black leather trousers with a sequined top, a grey knee-length dress worn with a grey cropped jacket and a black-and-white cocktail dress worn with stilettos.

The controversy over Ms Semenya's gender has angered many in South Africa, including her family who insist she is female.

Now that I know I can look like this I'd like to dress like this more often
Caster Semenya

And our reporter says her makeover has become a talking point since the magazine hit the shelves on Monday evening.

Listeners have been phoning up radio stations to give their thoughts on "the new and improved" Ms Semenya.

Some felt she should not have been "improved" while others said it was a "great look".

Ms Semenya, who has said very little about the gender controversy surrounding her, says she is not bothered by the negative publicity following her gold medal at the Berlin World Championships last month.

"I see it all as a joke, it doesn't upset me. God made me the way I am and I accept myself," she said.

"I've never bought my own clothes, my mum buys them for me, but now that I know I can look like this I'd like to dress like this more often," she added.

The magazine said it was "under strict obligation not to comment" on the makeover, but said the cover has sparked a lot of international interest.

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