Caster Semenya perched herself on a lane marker behind the start of the 800 meters and took a few moments to absorb what it feels like to be an Olympian.
She took some deep breaths, then got up, walked to the stagger start and went straight to work. Making her Olympic debut three years after being forced to undergo gender tests that cast doubt over her future in track and field, Semenya finished second in her preliminary heat Wednesday.
The 80,000-seat stadium was almost full, but she's used to big crowds. The whole experience, though, was something new.
''It was a very important race,'' Semenya said. ''It was a tactical race. I wanted the race to be a fast one. To be a good contender, you have to run under 2 minutes.''
This is the Semenya of 2012: She's 21 and she's reserved, almost guarded, and generally restricts her public comments to topics of competition.
And who could blame her?
She was still a teenager when she had no choice ...