Team SA in high spirits, all set for London Paralympics

2012-08-29 14:45

London – Chef de mission Pieter Badenhorst says Team South Africa’s 62 athletes are excited and full of anticipation for the London Paralympic Games.

While Londoners are still celebrating their triumphant hosting of the Olympics, the euphoria is set to continue for the next 10 days as competition at the Paralympics gets under way tomorrow.

“Our spirits are high and the mood is definitely where it should be right now,” Badenhorst said today.

“The team is full of excitement, and also anticipation, as the athletes have all trained hard and are just looking forward now to competing.”

South Africa bagged 30 medals at the 2008 Beijing Games, finishing sixth of 148 countries in the medals table, and the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) has set a target of 40 medals for the London people with disability showpiece.

They will have their first chance for a medal on the opening day of competition if swimmer Natalie du Toit, who won five gold medals at the 2008 Games, progresses to the final of the women’s 100m butterfly S9 event.

“We are hoping that all the guys who were successful in Beijing will repeat their performances in London, plus we are looking at a few first-time Paralympians to medal as well,” said Badenhorst, a gold medallist himself at the 1992 Barcelona Paralympics.

Badenhorst believed countries like Russia and Brazil would be well placed in the standings, but he expected South Africa to still finish in the top six, as they had done their homework since the last Paralympics.

After Beijing, Sascoc introduced a programme of excellence (Opex) to support the athletes and potential medal winners.

Badenhorst said the Opex initiative had gone a long way in assisting with their preparations.

“You’ll get your top three countries up there – China, the US and Great Britain – and the Aussies are always up there somewhere,” he said.

“But Russia invested heavily in the Olympics and they came from nowhere to finish fourth this year, and with Brazil being the next hosts, their investments will start to pay off early as well.

“But our athletes have also received support in terms of being trained by professional coaches and having had access to a team of medical experts.

“With the introduction of the Opex programme, the South Africans have been able to travel to more international competitions and some athletes have already competed in Europe two or three times this year.

“So we are expecting to maintain or better our position here as well.

“We are also the only team that can boast two Olympians (Oscar Pistorius and Du Toit) and three Laureus award winners in Oscar, Natalie and cyclist Ernst van Dyk.”

While Pistorius stole the limelight after his historic participation in this year’s Olympics, Du Toit kept a fairly low profile in comparison.

“She is training at the moment and just keeping really focused on her events,” said Badenhorst.

“Natalie has a tough schedule as she is swimming in seven events, but she is fine and her focus is where it should be.”

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.