Mandela lauds SA Olympians

2004-09-29 13:54
Johannesburg - Former president Nelson Mandela congratulated some of South Africa's Olympic medallists on Wednesday, saying they had made the country very proud.

The statuesque Mandela was almost dwarfed by the towering swimmers Ryk Neethling and Roland Schoeman, high jumper Hestrie Cloete, rowers Donovan Cech and Ramon di Clemente, and runner Mbulaeni Mulaudzi.

"You have done very well. You have put South Africa on the map and we are very proud of you," Mandela told Roland Schoeman during a brief photo opportunity at the Nelson Mandela Foundation's offices in Johannesburg.

Schoeman, Neethling, Lyndon Ferns and Darian Townsend won the men's 4x100m freestyle relay at the Athens Olympics while Schoeman also won a silver medal in the men's 100m freestyle as well as bronze in men's 50m freestyle.

Cloete won a silver medal in a nail biting high jump final while Mulaudzi had the country screaming as he sped towards a silver in the men's 800m track event.

Cech and Di Clemente joked "we are the rowers" as they had their photos taken with Mandela.

They won bronze for the men's coxless pairs rowing.

"As long as we remember that the performance is not necessarily the winning - the fact that you represented your country and made people aware that your country is part of it is sufficient," Mandela said.

The former president, who is supposed to have retired from public engagements, joked with the photographers that he was looking for a job, before being whisked away in a high security cavalcade to another appointment.


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