South Africans are rallying around Caster Semenya, on social meda and elsewhere. A message is being shared on Twitter in support of the runner, who is destined to provoke controversy at the Olympics because of her place in a debate over female athletes with high levels of testosterone being allowed to compete.



Semenya made her debut in Rio in the 800 heats on Wednesday, and then showed her gratitude for the support, also on Twitter:



Semenya is also getting a lot of love from South African politicians, including the minister of sport.



And an opposition party back home got in on the act, casting Semenya as a national hero and telling people not to call it while she was running at the Olympics, because they'd all be watching her on TV and no one would answer.



Semenya is the red-hot favorite to win gold in the two-lap race, and may also have a chance at breaking the 33-year-old world record in the 800. She began Wednesday by cruising to victory in her race and qualifying for the semifinals.


(AP Photo/Martin Meissner)