22 August 2012
South Africa’s Paralympians were in a confident mood at Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport on Tuesday afternoon ahead of their departure for the 2012 London Paralympic Games.
The 62-strong team is determined to improve on the strong showing of the team that scooped 21 gold medals and 30 in total in Beijing in 2008.
The Games get under way on 29 August and come to a close on 9 September. South Africa will be contesting athletics, cycling, equestrian, rowing, swimming, wheelchair basketball and wheelchair tennis.
Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula told the team that the nation would be following them on TV, “giving prayers and blowing vuvuzelas”.
“Walk tall and proudly South African. Long live!” the minister said.
South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) president Gideon Sam thanked the crowd who turned out to support the team, saying: “We are with them all the way to London.
“You’ve done it in the past,” Sam told the team. “Just go and do it again.”
Paralympic legend Oscar Pistorius will be the Team SA flagbearer at the Games’ opening ceremony.
Double-arm amputee Samkelo Radebe said he would return with a gold medal.
“I’ve prepared very well for the Games and I am quite confident to get a gold medal. I live to impress,” said the 23-year-old LLB student from the University of Johannesburg.
Paralympic swimmer Emily Gray said: “I have trained very hard for these upcoming Games and I am looking forward to enjoying and getting more experience. I am ready to make South Africa happy and proud.”
SAinfo reporter and SANews.gov.za