- Department of Sport, Arts and Culture minister Nathi Mthethwa paid tribute to all the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic medallists at a gala dinner in Johannesburg.
- World record holders Ntando Mahlangu and Tatjana Schoenmaker led the seven athletes who received their incentive cheques alongside their coaches.
- Mthethwa saluted SA's heroes but insists that more needs to be done in the development phase.
South Africa's Tokyo Olympics and Paralympic medallists received their incentives from sports minister Nathi Mthethwa at the Recognition of Excellence gala dinner on Thursday.
World record holders Ntando Mahlangu and Tatjana Schoenmaker led Team SA's Tokyo Games contingent as they were celebrated at Birchwood Hotel in Johannesburg.
Teen star Mahlangu picked up two gold medals in Japan, breaking the world record in the long jump T63 and winning the men's 200m T61.
His two gold medals (R450k each), accompanied by his world record (R180k), saw the 19-year-old take home R1.08 million for his second Paralympics.
Meanwhile, Schoenmaker received R850 000 for her world record gold medal in the women's 200m breaststroke and silver in the 100m breaststroke.
"You have inspired a nation... you've made South Africa so proud. We would never have done this had we not believed in you, the athletes, guides, coaches," said Sascoc president Barry Hendricks.
Silver medal winners will earn R220 000 (R70 000 for the coach), while those bagging bronze will pocket R100 000 (R30 000 for the coach). Guides were also awarded a coach incentive.
An added R180 000 is rewarded for athletes who break the world record in Tokyo with the incentive strictly for athletes and not for coaches.
Tatjana Schoenmaker - Gold and Silver (R450 000 and R220 000), WR in 200m breaststroke (R180 000)
Bianca Buitendag - Silver (R220 000)
Ntando Mahlangu - Two gold (R450 000 x 2), WR in long jump (R180 000)
Anrune Weyers - Gold (R450 000)
Pieter du Preez - Gold (450 000)
Louzanne Coetzee - Silver, Bronze (R220 000 and R100 000)
Sheryl James - Bronze (R100 000)
Mpumelelo Mhlongo - [T44] WR in 200m T64 heats (R180 000)
Mthethwa recognised the winners - as well as the participants - at the Tokyo Games.
"We must salute our gold medallists and those who broke world records at the Tokyo Games. Our silver and bronze medallists are indication of the depth of our talent and future gold medallists and gold medallists, we send our encouragement to you," said Mthethwa on Thursday.
"The same goes for those who achieved a personal best and as those who came fourth, fifth and sixth and so on at the Games. I want to thank all the foot soldiers as they are people behind the athletes like the coaches and I know they'll push and thank you for that. I want to thank their technical support staff and the athletes' families."
Mthethwa says a lot needs to be done ahead of the Paris Olympics and Paralympics in 2024, saying that development is key.
"We have no doubt though that valuable lessons were learnt upon which we need to build for [the] Paris Olympic and Paralympic Games. As government and Sascoc we have our work cut out to try and meet, not only our expectations and standards, but [also] the public," said Mthethwa.
"To that end, our formal post-mortem for the Tokyo performance is both necessary and urgent, and we've started with that with Sascoc.
"Our main contributing factors that we need to focus on is the development and maintaining of a pipeline that starts at school level and feeds into a delivered investment in our future stars. The amount our sister countries spend on their athletes compared to us clearly illustrates the catching up we need in order to remain competitive.
"We also learned that for any investment to be productive, it should take place between the Games and not before them."
Mthethwa thanked the athletes for their help as SA's athletes proved a shining light in a difficult year for the country.
"In time of depression, sport came to the fore and to our rescue. Sport is the healer and unifier of our nation. It's through sport that our nation grows closer together," he said.
"When that champion is standing there and billions of people of listening to your national anthem, never take that for granted."