Mbalula: Athletes can't be driving a Toyota Yaris!

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Caster Semenya (Getty Images)
Caster Semenya (Getty Images)

Johannesburg - South Africa's Olympic athletes arrived home to a heroes' welcome at OR Tambo International on Tuesday morning.

Hundreds of people waited in anticipation for Team South Africa to walk through the doors at international arrivals and the when the moment came the crowd did not disappoint.

Chanting, singing, yelling, clapping and whistling greeted the team that brought back 10 medals from Rio de Janeiro.

Sport and Recreation Minister, Fikile Mbalula, told the athletes that they are welcomed as heroes.

"I want to thank you all for coming to welcome a bunch of winners. We don't like losers," he said in typical Mbalula fashion.

He added that he wanted to commend the athletes that came back without a medal saying they all fought until the end.

Mbablula called on the corporate sector to help funding athletes saying it's not enough for athletes to drive a Toyota Yaris.

"We can't have athletes driving a Toyota Yaris. Caster Semenya must be driving a Lamborghini."

Along with the return of the athletes, Mbalula announced that all medallists will win an additional amount of money on top of their winnings already announced.

Wayde van Niekerk will receive an additional R150 000 for taking gold in the 400m along with smashing Michael Johnson's record.

Semenya's gold will see her receiving an additional R100 000 while all silver medallists will receive R70 000 extra while bronze medallists will get an extra R50 000.

Upon questions over the controversy, Semenya was quick to shut down those that doubt her.

"I have no time for questions (of naysayers)," she told reporters. But for all my support, I appreciate it," she said.

Springbok Sevens bronze medallist, Cecil Afrika, told News24 he was excited about rugby being an Olympic sport.

"It was my first time in an Olympic experience and it was something very special," Afrika said.

He added that Olympic Sevens being one of the most watched sports at the event shows the growth of rugby as a sport.

Another medallist, Henri Schoeman, who took bronze in the Triathlon said he was very privileged to have been able to compete and he will set his sights on an even higher achievement next time.

"I was an underdog at this Olympics," Schoeman said.

Another fan favourite, long-jump silver medallist Luvo Manyonga, could barely contain his excitement, being all smiles.

Manyonga said it was an experience he would cherish forever.

Van Niekerk and Sunette Viljoen were absent as they were en route to Paris.

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