The 2008 Beijing Paralympics team
Athletics: Arnu Fourie, Chenelle van Zyl, David Roos, Duane Strydom, Ernst van Dyk, Fanie vd Merwe, Hilton Keith, Ilse Hayes, Marius Stander, Michael Louwrens, Ndodomzi Ntutu, Nicholas Newman, Ntomibizanele Situ, Oscar Pistorius, Stephanus Lombaard, Teboho Mokgalagadi.
Coaches: Suzanne Ferrieira, Nombuso Gumbi, Melvin Myburgh, Ampie Lous
Manager: Dion Bishop
Aquatics: Achmat Hassiem, Adri Visser, Beth Nothling, Charl Bouwer, Emily Gray, Kevin Paul, Natalie du Toit, Shireen Sapiro, Tadgh Slattery, Sarah Shannon.
Coaches: Erika Menton, Theo Verster.
Manager: Scott Field
Cycling: Ernst van Dyk, Gavin Kilpatrick, Janos Plekker, Michael Thomson, Riaan Nel, Roxanne Burns, Susan van Staden. Coaches: Grenville Scullard, Elrick Kulsen.
Manager: Cinio Branco
Equestrian: Kerry Noble, Marion Milne, Mark Frenzel, Philippa Johnson.
Manager / Coach: Katrine Puttick
Grooms: Karen Beytell, Oscar Chumbuamba
Powerlifting: Wilhelmina Grobbelaar.
Manager / Coach: Rodney Anthony
Rowing: Gordon Eddey, Jarryd Clarke, Kevin du Toit, Kim Robinson, Masego Mokhine.
Manager /Coach: Adrian Higgins
Table Tennis: Aletta Moll, Alisha Almeida, Johan du Plooy, Pieter du Plooy.
Manager / Coach: Sumera Maal
Tennis: Kgothatso Montjane.
Manager / Coach: Craig Fairall
Wheelchair Basketball: David Curle, Grant Waites, Jeremy Nel, Justin Govender, Marcus Retief, Marius Papenfus, Nicholas Taylor, Ralph Williams, Richard Nortje, Shaun Hartnick, Siphamandla Gumbi, Thandile Zonke.
Coaches: Viv Sierra, Kelebone Mosuoe
Manager: Willie Riechert
Chief Medical Officer: Dr Kevin Subban Doctor: Dr Wayne Dermen
Chief Physiotherapist: Bafana Sihlali
Physiotherapists: Adele Geldenhuys, Grace Hughes, Joseph Ntseke, Robyn John, Tanushree Pillay, Yamisha Natalal.
The South African team headed for the 2008 Beijing Paralympics includes a number of young, up and coming, athletes.
The newest addition to the Paralympic family must be the rowing team. Explains Kevin du Toit, who has rowed since his school years: “This is the first time that rowing is being offered at the games as a sport, and the first time that South Africa is sending a team.” Our rowers are also the only African team at the games.
Says Coach Adrian Higgins: “We obviously want to achieve the best result we can. This will improve the exposure of adaptive rowing in this country and hopefully lead to sponsorship in the future.”
Kevin is optimistic but cautious about the team’s chances. “It is difficult to assess our competition as we have not had the opportunity to compete against any of the international teams. However we are aiming to get into the A final (top 6) and believe that with our form and mindset at this point we will achieve this.”
Says Kim Robinson, one of two ladies in the team: “I think we can do well, despite our lack of experience; as long as we don’t get ahead of ourselves and do keep our heads. We have nothing to lose.”
This is also the first time we have sent an equestrian team. For three of its four members, Mark Frenzel, Kerry Noble and Marion Milne, it will be their first Paralympics. Says Kerry: “We would like to do well and bring back a medal. We believe that this would go a long way to showing that South Africa is serious about the equestrian event and that disability is something that can be overcome.”
As teams cannot take their own horses with them because of quarantine rules, they will have to ride horses supplied to them in China. “This does make everything a bit more nerve-racking, but I believe we are mentally ready to meet all the challenges over the next two months,” says Marian.
Mark, who the rest of team call their hero as he is always motivating everyone, is confident that the team will do well. “We are also excited to be part of the squad and will be looking to learn as much as possible while we are in Beijing about competing in an event of this stature.”
Another team hoping to prove their potential is the table tennis team. Says athlete Alet Moll: “Beijing and China are the mecca of table tennis so it is going to be really tough.” This is her third Paralympics and she is relaxed about participating. “It does help your mindset when you have participated at a Paralympics previously. I know what to expect, not only in terms of competing, but in terms of travelling and the whole process involved.”
Paralympic Athletics has always been strongly represented with athletes such as Oscar Pistorius and Fanie Lombard. For Jonathan Ntutu, a 100m and 200m athlete, this will be his second Paralympics. “There is some pressure, but I am relaxed – only because we are not there yet. I really would like to improve my previous performance.”
In Athens Jonathan made the semifinals for the 100m. “This time I am coming home with a medal.” He is so looking forward to the experience of Beijing that he has learnt Chinese.
Another athletics favourite is Fanie Lombard. Although Fanie retired after the last Paralympics he is back, he says, for a last time. “It is actually great to be part of the senior group in the squad. I can relax more and enjoy the whole experience which really is something most people only achieve once in a lifetime and some people never have the opportunity to do. Representing my country always makes me proud and I will always do my best for that reason.”