Paralympic celebrations | SASCOC - SASCOC

Paralympic celebrations

By Mark EtheridgeÔÇ¿ÔÇ¿

South Africa’s Paralympic athletes rejoiced on Wednesday after their selection for the national team to do duty in London later this year.

The 62-strong squad of athletes to compete at the 14th Paralympic Games was announced at a function at Olympic House in Johannesburg.

Said swimmer Kevin Paul: “I’m very excited to be going to my second Paralympics, its so close.”

Paul, born without pectoral muscles on one side of his body, won gold at the last Paralympics in Beijing four years ago. “I’ve already been to London and done all the sight-seeing that I wanted to do so now it’s down to the competition. I leave on Saturday for an international competition in Germany and then go to Italy for a training camp,” he told Road to London 2012.

“I only get back to South Africa on 20 July before the Paralympics. But right now I’m focusing on my studies [he’s studying law in Port Elizabeth] and have a criminal law┬á exam tomorrow.”

Athlete Samkelo Radebe is looking forward to his first Paralympics despite success on the international para-athletics circuit.

“It’s going to be huge,” said the Gauteng athlete who lost both his arms below the elbow in an electrical accident. “I’ve been to England but never competed in London before so I’m very excited. At this stage I’m focusing on the 100m and think that may be the only event I’m running.”

Cycling manager Mike Burns says he’s confident of the six-strong squad bring back “probably around three medals”.

“At this stage Ernst van Dyk is a very strong contender for gold in the handcycle road race and then between the rest of the team I reckon we can get at least two other medals between them.”

The Paralympics will be held between 29 August and 9 September. Since their first Paralympics in Japan in 1964 the country have acccumulated 139 medals with 63 of them being gold.