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Team SA arrive in London for 2012 Paralympics

By Mark Etheridge

Team South Africa have touched down in London for the 2012 Paralympics and are eager to get their campaign under way.

The 62-strong team of athletes, plus coaches and officials, jetted off from OR Tambo Airport on Tuesday and arrived in Heathrow early on Wednesday morning.

The squad received a warm round of applause after the captain announced that South African Airways were proud to be flying our Paralympians to London. Later in the flight another message of goodwill came from the air traffic controllers at OR Tambo.

Despite a jam-packed flight the athletes rested well and were more then adequately accommodated for by attentive flight attendants who saw to it that the likes of swimmers Achmat Hassiem and Charl Bouwer (two of the taller members of the squad) had sufficient leg room.

The team were then ferried by coach to the Olympic Village, which was also the home for their Olypmpic counterparts earlier this month.

The team are staying in the same Heritage Block of apartments as the Olympians spent their time.

“The team are settling in well and just taking their time after a long flight,” said Chef de Mission Pieter Badenhorst, himself a veteran of six Paralympics (three as a competitor).

“The living units are great and where we are situated in the village is absolutely perfect. Now we will start arranging training schedules and transport logistics.”

Said cyclist Roxy Burns, who made her Olympic debut in Beijing four years ago: “Having been in Beijing I vaguely knew what to expect but this is great. The dining hall is huge with lots of choice and the bedrooms are very pretty.”

Swim coach Karin Hugo was at the 2004 Paralympics and 2008 Olympics and was equally satisfied. “Our apartment location in the the village is great and there can’t be any complaints at all right now.”

The swim squad were the first to get into training. They headed off for a training session barely six hours after touching down.

The Paralympics get underway on Wednesday 29 August and end on Sunday 9 September.

At the Beijing Paralympics Team South Africa ended sixth on the medals table with 30 medals.


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