Paralympians welcomed back

2004-10-01 12:42
Johannesburg - Cheers and some tears greeted the South African Paralympic team when they arrived home from the Paralympic Games in Athens on Friday.

As the athletes emerged from Customs, the large and enthusiastic crowd at Johannesburg International Airport spontaneously broke into "Shoshaloza", and the athletes were swamped by well-wishers, as well as photographers and television cameras.

Among those at the airport to welcome the Paralympians was the Minister in the Office of the President, Essop Pahad, who said the athletes had made all of South Africa proud.

He said President Mbeki had expressed his profound satisfaction with the team and their remarkable achievements.

"What particularly impressed me in Athens was the warmth and spirit of the Paralympians," he said. "The team spirit was wonderful."

South Africa finished 13th overall on the medals table, and fourth in athletics. The Chef de Mission, Alison Burchell, said that while the number of medals was down from Sydney - 35 against 38 - the quality of medals had improved. Ten of the 15 gold medals had been achieved with world records, and three with Paralympic records.

Burchell said if South Africa wanted to do well at the next Paralympic Games in Beijing in 2008, they needed to start preparing almost immediately.

Ready for 2008

She pointed out that China, who won the most medals in Athens, had already started preparing for the Beijing Games.

"The Chinese were selecting people as young as eleven in their team, so that by the time they got to Beijing, they would be ready," she said.

"I can't begin to imagine how well the Chinese will do in front of their home crowd in 2008.

"What we need to do is to give our athletes the correct support, and involve them in a Paralympic squad as soon as possible. They also need more international competition of European standard.

"Of the top ten countries in Paralympics, five are from Europe, so we need to send as many of our athletes to compete in Europe."

Meanwhile the South African Sports Commission has sent a message of congratulations to the Paralympics Team. CEO Joe Paahla said their outstanding performance at the Games showed the team's hard work and dedication in preparing for the Paralympics.

"The South African nation welcomes the team's victory as a restoration of our dignity and confidence. Be assured that the entire nation is proud of you," said Paahla.


AB praises selfless skipper

2010-11-21 18:15

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.