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SOUTH AFRICAN SPORTS CONFEDERATION AND OLYMPIC COMMITTEE

IOC President’s high praise for Madiba

Former South African President Nelson Mandela is the most impressive personality International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge has met during his 12 years in office.

Rogge will step down in September after a largely successful period in office during which he said he had met many “fabulous” people and also some “disappointing” ones, reported AFP news agency.

However, while he would not elaborate on whom he considered to be disappointing he was unequivocal about who he had been most impressed by. “Nelson Mandela,” he told AFP in an exclusive interview conducted at IOC headquarters.

“I have tremendous respect for him. He is very approachable. One feels almost humble in his presence. He is revered in his lifetime and will be afterwards. He is an iconic figure.”

Rogge also said he had enjoyed a light-hearted moment with regard to another head of state, British monarch Queen Elizabeth II.

At the opening ceremony for last year’s London Olympics a double of the Queen was seen jumping out of a helicopter with legendary secret service agent James Bond and landing in the Olympic Stadium.

Rogge, who was standing not far from the real and smiling Queen in the anteroom to the entrance to the VIP seats watching it on television, said only in Britain could that have taken place.

“It was a great moment,” he said chuckling. “It was British humour at its best. It could only happen in the UK!”