Team South Africa named for 2012 Paralympics
Sports governing body SASCOC have announced yet another star-studded team to travel to the London Paralympic Games later this year.
The announcement was made at SASCOC’s Olympic House on Wednesday and was a glittering occasion as the names of the selected 62 athletes were revealed to the nation.
The team is only slightly down on the 66 athletes that travelled to Beijing, China, the city which hosted the Paralympic Games in 2008.
The squad will be spread over seven different codes. These are: athletics, cycling, equestrian, rowing, swimming, wheelchair basketball and wheelchair tennis, with athletics having the strongest representation with 25 athletes.
Swimming will have 10 competitors while the wheelchair basketball team is made up of 12 athletes. Next highest quota are the six cycling competitors.
Spearheading the athletics code will be three-time Paralympian Oscar Pistorius while five-time gold medallist in Beijing, Natalie du Toit is the pick of the aquatics code.
Speaking at the Team Announcement a proud SASCOC CEO, Mr Tubby Reddy said he had no doubts that the selected team would return triumphant. “Although qualifying standards are high, our Paralympians have a global reputation for excellence and I know they will once again do us proud. They’ve fought long and hard to get into this team and we shall see the rewards at these Paralympics.”
Introducing the team, SASCOC President Mr Gideon Sam said it was only right that the Paralympians got their deserved share of publicity. “At our last press conference we shared with you our team for the Olympic Games in London and today it’s the turn of the Paralympic athletes to get their share of the limelight.
“In the past we have sometimes come in for criticism about the performance of our Olympic teams but when it comes to Paralympic teams our men and women have done us proud time and time again. Let me remind you that the first South Africans to represent their country at the Paralympics numbered just nine, way back at the 1964 Tokyo Paralympics and they set the benchmark by bringing back eight gold medals.
“Down the years our para-athletes have continued to bring glory to the country. At the last Paralympics in Beijing we sent a team of 66 and between them they brought back 30 medals, 21 of which were gold. This is the high standard of excellence that we have come to expect from our Paralympians.
“Sadly we don’t have a huge Paralympic sporting culture in this country. These are the stars who quietly go about doing their job of preparing for competitions at the very highest level. For something like three years and 11 months you’ll hear just about nothing and then suddenly a month before the Olympics the country starts waking up and says: ‘Hey it’s the Paralympics, who is going!?
“But having said that, we thankfully have, in the shape of Oscar Pistorius and Natalie du Toit, two global superstars who manage to keep the Paralympic flame burning throughout the Paralympic cycles and our other Paralympians must make sure that they feed off this publicity and go on to carve their own niche in the sporting world.
“I also have to thank all our Paralympic sponsors. We are blessed to have some extremely loyal Paralympic sponsors and they have always been there in times of hardship, stood rock-solid behind our Paralympians and in turn been rewarded by the medals these amazing young men and women have brought back to South Africa.”
The London Paralympics gets underway on 29 August and ends on 9 September.
Good luck wishes also came in for the team from the corporate world. Brand South Africa, through its CEO Miller Matola, wished the Paralympics team well in the upcoming games. “Their inclusion in the team is a testament of their excellences on the sporting field.
“We wish you luck knowing very well that good luck is the result of hard work and preparation. Do us proud and continue flying our country’s flag high,” said Matola.
Another highlight of the Paralympic team announcement was the unveiling of Leigh Schubert as the designer who fashioned the kit to be worn by Team South Africa at the opening ceremonies of both the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics.
SASCOC invited the South African public to vote for the final six designs chosen by a panel of celebrities and the public voted overwhelmingly in favour of Schubert’s cutting edge design.
Part of the design criteria were that the design had to be proudly South African.
The SA public also got to vote for the popular official team mascot Chukuru a few months back.
The full Team South Africa for the 2012 London Paralympics:
Tshepo Bhebe, Dyan Buis, Andrea Dalle Ave, Pieter du Preez, Charl du Toit, Arnu Fourie, Ilse Hayes, Hilton Langenhoven, Anrune Liebenberg, Michael Louwrens, Teboho Mokgalagadi, Jan Nehro (guide: Duane Fortuin), Zandile Nhlapo, Jonathan Ntutu, Oscar Pistorius, Anika Pretorius, Samkelo Radebe, Casper Schutte, Union Sekailwe, Zanele Situ, Zivan Smith, Marius Stander, Duane Strydom, Fanie van der Merwe, Chenelle van Zyl.
Manager: Dion Bishop. Coaches: Suzanne Ferreira, Zelda Hansen, Hennie Koekemoer, Karin le Roux, Ampie Louw. Team Assistant: Neels Matthyser. Helper: Illse du Preez
Roxy Burns, Madre Carinus, Stuart McCreadie, Jaco Nel, Ernst van Dyk, Gerhard Viljoen.
Manager: Mike Burns. Coach: Ricky Kulsen, Mechanic: Pieter Jansen
Anthony Dawson, Philipa Johnson, Marion Milne, Wendy Moller
Manager: Tracey Cumming. Coach: Chris Haazen. Vet: Sheelagh Higgerty. Grooms: Enoch Cele, Anton Chimbuanda, Elizabeth Newsome, Teri Smith
Manager/coach: Marco Galeone
Renette Bloem, Charl Bouwer, Natalie du Toit, Emily Gray, Achmat Hassiem, Hendri Herbst, Marike Naude, Kevin Paul, Shireen Sapiro, Tadhg Slattery
Manager: Queeneth Ndlovu. Coach: Karoly Toros. Coach/Tapper: Karin Hugo. Tapper/Helper: Eeden Meyer
Justin Govender, Siphamandla Gumbi, Stuart Jellows, Kyle Louw, Luvuyo Mbande, Gift Mooketsi, Richard Nortje, Kobus Oeschger, Marius Papenfus, Marcus Retief, Jaco Velloen
Manager: Willie Riechert. Coach: Patrick Fick. Assistant coach: Shadrack Moepeng. Technical coach: Franck Belen
Evans Maripa, Sydwell Mathonsi, Kgothatso Montjane, Lucas Sithole.
Manager/coach: Holger Losch. Assistant coach: Khotso Matshego.
General Team Management
Chef de Mission: Pieter Badenhorst
Project manager: Vinesh Maharaj
Manager (logistics): Clifford Cobers
Logistics: Madira Sehlapelo
Manager (athletes services): Chantelle Jardim
Athlete services: Dumisani Mtwa
Chief medical officer: Wayne Derman
Chief physiotherapist: Grace Hughes
Doctor: Paul Maphoto
Physiotherapists: Given Baloyi, Edwin Bodha, Greshne Davids, Shantal Edwards, Dan Ntseke, Evah Ramashala
Classifier: Tarina van der Stockt