31 July 2012
The golden boy of South African swimming, 100 metres breaststroke Olympic champion Cameron van der Burgh, paid a visit to the Ekhaya Hospitality Centre at London’s Southbank Centre on Monday afternoon to show off his gold medal.
Van der Burgh, accompanied by Team SA’s Chef de Mission, Patience Shikwambana, was welcomed by Sport Minister Fikile Mbalula, Deputy Health Minister Gwen Ramokgopa and High Commissioner Zola Skweyiya.
The Queen Elizabeth Hall was full of ululations and blazing sounds of vuvuzelas from South Africans living in abroad and those who are there for Olympics.
‘It’s a great feeling’
Addressing his fellow countrymen and women, Van der Burgh said: “It’s a great feeling winning the medal for my country. When I grew up, I used to paste posters of swimmers like Penny Heyns on my wall, and always believed one day I will be like them. Today I am living that dream.”
He added that he encouraged the new generation to do more and better than him.
Mbalula told Cameron that South Africa was proud of him.
“You made every South African proud,” Mbalula said. “You profiled the country among the nations of the world and motivated your fellow athletes to do us proud by also representing on the podium.”
Among those who came to congratulate Van der Burgh were SA Football Association president Kirsten Nematendani, musicians Thandiswa Mazwai and DJ Mahoota, Supersport’s Happy Ntshingila, businessman Sello Rasethaba, comedian Joey Rasdien, Team SA ambassadors Lucas Radebe and Cynthia Tshaka, and hundreds of South Africans.
South African ‘home away from home’
Located at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London’s South Bank Centre, the Ekhaya Hospitality Centre serves as a home away from home for South African athletes, fans and friends for the duration of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The centre will be operational from 8am daily, with facilities including wi-fi and internet connectivity, meeting rooms, a media and business centre, a business lounge, function facilities, full coverage of all sports events, and a South Africa bar.
Among other activities, the Ekhaya programme features a daily cultural exhibition; Olympic and Paralympic events broadcast on big screens; meetings for London-based local businesses to network; and celebratory events for Team SA.
The centre is being run by a host of national government departments – Sport and Recreation, Arts and Culture, Trade and Industry, International Relations and Co-operation, and Tourism – in partnership with South African Tourism and Brand South Africa.