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Sam: Make us proud
- Updated: February 9, 2012
SASCOC President Gideon Sam on Thursday urged the country’s para-athletes to do their country proud at this year’s Paralympic Games in London.
Sam was speaking at a function to celebrate 200 days to go before the Paralympics get underway.
The venue was aboard the British navy frigate HMS Montrose that had had docked earlier in the day at the Simon’s Town naval base near Cape Town as part of the ship’s South Atlantic tour.
Commanding Officer Jonathan Lett had earlier opened the function and referred to the close association between South Afrian and Britain in both naval and sporting terms.
“I must tell you that our Paralympic stars are as battle-ready to defend their sporting honour in London later this year just as your magnificent vessel defends the British nation’s interest at all times,” replied Sam.
“Our Paralympic athletes have a reputation for both their spirit or ‘gees’ that we call it here in South Africa, and their sporting toughness. At the last Paralympics in Beijing four years ago we sent a team of 66 athletes. They returned home with no fewer than 30 medals and amongst those were 21 golds.
“Our para-athletes do things from the heart. Compared to the big nations our funding is small but they continue to give their utmost. I really implore South Africans to dig deep and help in whatever way they can, however small that is.
“But these same athletes wouldn’t even be here at all if it wasn’t for the generosity of our ever-loyal sponsors. It’s them that have made it possible for our athletes to concentrate on their training and sharpening their skills and techniques as the Games approach. Now with only 200 days to go it will hopefully just be a case of a few touch-ups here and there before those medals start pouring in.”
Among the para-athletes present were treble gold medal winner at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics, Hilton Langenhoven, gold medallists Ilse Hayes, Charl Bouwer and fellow Paralympians Fanie van der Merwe and Zanele Situ.
“It’s getting very exciting now that we’re actually into the Paralympic year,” said Van der Merwe who represented Team South Africa at the All Africa Games in Mozambique last year. “Now it’s just all about making sure you’re training well and are ready.”
“The country is certainly due for some feel-good stories,” said Sam. “I’m very much of the belief that our Paralympic team will be able to deliver us those stories.
“Finally I must once again say that we are forever indebted to the High Commissioner and before he gets at all worried about the threat of Team South Africa, I will ask our Paralympic stars to kindly leave at least some medals for your own British team at the Games later this year.