THE father of South Africa's teenage 800m world champion has told how she had a boy's upbringing.

But he defended daughter Caster Semenya from accusations that she is a man.

"From the time she could walk, Caster only wanted to play with boys," father Jacob Semenya said.

"Her three elder sisters wore dresses, as little girls do, but Caster refused. She has never had a skirt, only trousers.

"I knew she was different to the others and even now if you speak to her on the telephone you might mistake her for a man. But I used to change her nappy and I know she's a woman. What better proof do people need?" Mr Semenya, a council gardener, said.

Caster Semenya remains in hiding as athletics chiefs prepare to carry out gender tests.

Mr Semenya said he was sickened by the news that she was to have the tests.

"I don't even know how they do this gender testing," he says.

"I don't know what a chromosome is. This is all very painful for us. We live by simple rules. This is not natural."