South African team announced for London Paralympic Games
June 22, 2012
This summer, the world will come together to watch the best athletes on the planet compete in London in both the Olympic and Paralympic Games. South Africa recently announced its Paralympic team and expressed beliefs that the team would emerge victorious as they did in Beijing in 2008. The South African Olympic committee (SASCOC) reported the 66 athletes that make up this year's team will be taking part in seven different areas - athletics, cycling, equestrian, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair tennis, swimming and rowing.
"In the past, we have sometimes come in for criticism about the performance of our Olympic teams, but when it comes to Paralympic teams, our men and women have done us proud time and time again," SASCOC president Gideon Sam said before introducing this year's team. "Down the years our para-athletes have continued to bring glory to the country. At the last Paralympics in Beijing, we sent a team of 66 and they brought back 30 medals, 21 of which were gold. This is the high standard of excellence that we have come to expect from our Paralympians."
Everyone who took home a gold medal in Beijing will be going to London to defend their titles this year, except Fanie Lombard, who won the men's discus throw four years ago, according to AllAfrica.com. A few of the returning athletes - Ernst van Dyke, Natalie du Toit and Oscar Pistorious - have all been recipients of the Laureus World Sports Award for Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability in 2006, 2010 and 2012, respectively.
"Although qualifying standards are high, our Paralympians have a global reputation for excellence and I know they will once again do us proud," said SASCOC CEO Tubby Reddy. "They've fought long and hard to get into this team and we shall see the rewards at these Paralympics."
The majority of the team's 66 members (25 athletes) will be competing in the athletics events, 10 will be swimming for the gold, and the wheelchair basketball team has 12 players. Paralympics fans can make calls to South Africa to talk to their friends about the upcoming games and the team's prospects at retaining the high level of excellence seen in Beijing.