Chukuru named Team SA’s mascot

As of Wednesday 4 April 2012, Team South Africa has a new face.

Unveiled as the show stopper at the kit launch in NewtownÔÇÖs Turbine Hall in Johannesburg, Chukuru is the Team South Africa mascot for all multi-coded sports events going forward from the London Olympics and Paralympics later this year.

Designed by Vanessa de Castro and Prudence Tshikalange from Mortimer Harvey Advertising agency, Chukuru (pronounced chu-ku-ru) ÔÇô an African name for rhino ÔÇô beat over a hundred entries to claim the ultimate prize.

ÔÇ£When we got the brief from SASCOC to design a mascot for the South African Olympic team ÔÇô we knew, straight away that this was a-once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,ÔÇØ a proud De Castro exclaimed.

ÔÇ£It was a chance to create something that would represent our Olympic team and the hopes and pride of the entire country. It doesnÔÇÖt get better than that.ÔÇØ

The mascot tender was part of national Olympic governing body SASCOCÔÇÖs drive to create a national identity around the team, also at future events like the Commonwealth Games, World Games, All Africa Games and Zone VI Games.

Six finalists were chosen and of 14464 votes received and monitored by an independent firm, Chukuru was the overwhelming winner. Chukuru received 3579 votes, while fellow finalist SiyeZA came close with 3346. In the final analysis a victory margin of 233 votes gave the African rhino the upper hand.

ÔÇ£We are honoured and humbled that South Africa voted Chukuru to represent our country at the Olympics and Paralympics,ÔÇØ beamed Tshikalange.

Dressed in a green-coloured shirt with the SASCOC badge, green shorts and takkies, the sporty rhinoÔÇÖs horns are covered with the colors of the five Olympic rings ÔÇô red, yellow, green, black and blue, which also happen to be the colours of the rainbow nationÔÇÖs flag. To give the rings an Mzansi feel they are made out of Ndebele beads.

ÔÇ£When we found out that we had won the SASCOC mascot competition, we went outside onto a balcony, jumped up and down, screamed, hugged each other and we did a little victory dance. We couldnÔÇÖt believe that we had actually achieved something like this.ÔÇØ

Chukuru is more than just a mascot competition for Mortimer Harvey, but also about campaign awareness for the rhinoÔÇÖs plight. ÔÇ£We cannot wait to switch on the TV to witness the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics and seeing Chukuru walking with our South African athletes and bringing the worldÔÇÖs eyes onto the very real epidemic of rhino poaching in our country.ÔÇØ The Mortimer Harvey team reflected.

Up for grabs for correctly predicting the mascot was a R10 000 cash prize which went to Cape Town resident Marlaine Lawrence.