Pistorius included in London squad

2012-07-05 00:00

OSCAR Pistorius’s dream of becoming the first amputee athlete to compete in both the Olympics and Paralympics has become a reality with his inclusion in South Africa’s 4x400 metre relay squad for London 2012.

Pistorius, who has struggled to reach the form that saw him compete in the World Athletics Championships in Daegu last August, was yesterday added with 12 other athletes to the original 112-member Team SA that was announced on June 6.

Pistorius will be joined in the relay by Willem de Beer, Ofentse Mogawane and Shaun de Jager, with both Cornel Fredericks and LJ van Zyl having been named in the original announcement.

Pistorius was understandably excited about the chance to represent his country at an Olympic Games.

“Today is truly one of the proudest days of my life. To have been selected to represent Team South Africa at the London 2012 Olympic Games in the individual 400 m and the 4x400 m relay is a real honour and I’m so pleased years of hard work, determination and sacrifice have all come together,” he said yesterday.

Other track and field athletes to be added to the London-bound team are World and Olympic Silver long jump medalist Khotso Mokoena, 110 m hurdler Lehann Fourie and Andre Olivier, who was the last athlete to achieve a qualifying mark during last week’s African Championships by running a medalwinning personal best time in the 800m.

Willem Coertzen, who set a new South African record for the decathlon during the SA Championships in Port Elizabeth in April, has also been included and it is likely that being London-based he will take this mark a step further given the “home” support he will have during the Games.

Without question, the surprise qualification in athletics came with 200 m sprinter Anaso Jobodwana, who ran a 20,32 in Oxford in June and then achieved the required second qualifying mark in Slovenia with a 20,50. This also gave him the top SA ranking for the distance for the local season.

Although Simon Magakwe has excelled in the past in both the 100 m and 200 m, he has failed to make the second qualification and will not travel to London.

Open water swimmers Troyden Prinsloo and Jessica Roux, who swam at the recent qualifying event in Portugal, Darren Murray (200 metre backstroke) and Trudi Maree (50 m freestyle) have also been added to the team.

The support team has been augmented with Olympic silver medallist Hezekiel Sepeng named as manager for the athletics squad and Terseus Liebenberg, Hennie Kotze and Gerrie Coetzee named as coaching staff.

Pietermaritzburg-based Wayne Ridden, a Witness correspondent, and Cedric Finch join the aquatics staff with technical analyst Ryan Holdien.

Then, in a change to the general team management complement, the position of chef de mission to London will now be filled by Patience Shikwambana. She replaces Malesela Maleka. Shikwambana also fulfilled this duty successfully at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.

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