Paralympic Special - It's a Gold Rush!

It was inevitable that all eyes would be on South Africa, specifically on Oscar Pistorius and Natalie du Toit, (or should we say du Twah?) at the Beijing Paralympic Games 2008. When Oscar and Natalie negotiated the right to compete at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games it challenged antiquated mindsets and created a world wide shift in paradigms.
In her address at the Team SA Paralympics Farewell Banquet in August, Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, told the departing athletes “You are carrying not only the South African flag, but also the hopes of the entire nation, and the desire to regain our stature. The country has never needed you so much.”South African Disabled Sports fans were smiling from day one of the Beijing Paralympics and the smiles just grew and grew as Team SA ran, swam, and competed their way into medal heaven. The joy spread like a virus (a gold virus?) and folks who didn’t know a P12 from a T43 were tuning in to watch South Africa break world record after world record. (Picture: Natalie du Toit leads out the South African Paralympic Team. Natalie carried our flag high at both events, a world first! All photographs compliments of Gallo Images ©)

Everyone has asked the question: why so many medals compared to the Olympians? With people such as Andy Scott, Alison Burchell, Peter Goldhawk and now Pieter Badenhorst, (Napcosa) and its successor, Disability Sport SA, our athletes are supported by reliable, solid and professional structures. It could also be that our athletes, who have already overcome so many challenges to ensure their place in the Team were not phased by obstacles.
Over 4 000 competitors competed for 472 gold medals in 20 sports. South African sponsors (Sasol, Coca-Cola, Mercedes-Benz, Nedbank, Pick ‘n Pay, SAA, Sun Int., Telkom, Vodacom, Lotto, Dept. of Sport and Recreation and Puma) invested wisely in our modest team of 61 athletes (some teams had over 200) as we proved our mettle and finished in 6th place overall with 30 medals: GOLD 21, SILVER 3, BRONZE 6.
An additional honour to South Africa came when Natalie was awarded the Whang Youn Dai Achievement Award for her involvement with the Vista Nova School in Cape Town, a school for children with cerebral palsy and learning disabilities.
When Paralympic veteran and 2008 bronze medallist, Tadhg Slattery, “the heart and soul of the team”, carried our flag at the Closing Ceremony he lead a South African Team that had risen to the challenge of Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, restored hope to our fledgling nation and put South Africa back on the podium in the international sports arena.To all the unsung heroes: the managers and coaches, guides, pilots, medics, helpers and others who went over with our athletes to facilitate this South African blitz, thank you.
To our readers at home, watching on TV, who sent emails and SMS’s of encouragement to the athletes, pat yourselves on the back as you too played a part in creating the phenomenon that is TEAM SA!

(Picture:A Bird’s Eye view of South Africa’s first track athlete to get 3 Gold Medals. Hilton spent the last two years concentrating on his sport and consulted psychologist to conquer his nerves. He wanted a sub 22 second time and he did it to the roars of the Chinese crowd as he powered past their athletes on the home straight.)

Hilton Langenhoven (T/F12) Age 25
Pentathlon – GOLD (3401 points)
Long Jump – GOLD (7.31m)
200m Final – GOLD (21.94s)

Coxed Four Heats – 4th
Gordon Eddey (LTA 4+) Age 51
Kevin du Toit (LTA 4+) Age 29
Kim Robinson (LTA 4+) Age 32
Masego Mokhine (LTA 4+) Age 22
Jarryd Clarke (COX) Age 17
(Picture: Adrian Higgins holds on to Gordon Eddey’s leg at Shunyi.)

Zanele Situ (F54) Age 37
Discus – 9th (13.83m)
Javelin – 7th (14.82m)
Shot-putt – 12th (5.07m)
(Picture: Zanele Situ recipient of the Whang Youn Dai Achievement Award at Athens in 2004.)
Arnu Fourie (T44) Age 23
100m Final - 4th (11.65s)
200m Final – 6th (23.87s)
Chenelle van Zyl (F35) Age 24
Discus – 6th (22.16m)
Javelin – 14th (17.86m)
Shot-putt – 5th (7.42m)
David Roos (T/F46) Age 26
100m Heats – 7th (11.73s)
200m Heats – 5th (23.54s)
Long Jump – SILVER (6.64m)
Fanie Lombard (F42) Age 39
Shot-putt – BRONZE (13.87m)
Discus – GOLD (46.75m)
(Picture: When Fanie Lombard took Gold in the F42 Discus event he became the most highly decorated Paralympian in South African history amassing an amazing 8 Gold, 2 Silver and 2 Bronze medals in the last 4 Paralympics)
Duane Strydom (F36) Age 49
Discus - 4th (36.47m)
Fanie vd Merwe (T37) Age 22
100m Final – GOLD (11.83s)
200m Final – GOLD (23.83s) WR
Ilse Hayes (T/F13) Age 25
Long Jump – GOLD (5.68m)
200m Final – 5th (26.22)
100m Final – SILVER (12.45s)
Marius Stander (T38) Age 24
200m Final – 8th (24.23s)
400m Final – 4th (52.56s)
Michael Louwrens (F57) Age 49
Shotput – 5th (13.64m)
Nicholas Newman (F36) Age 27
Javelin – BRONZE – (42.48m)
Oscar Pistorius (T43) Age 21
100m Final – GOLD (11.17s)
200m Final – GOLD (21.67m)
400m Final – GOLD (47.49s) WR.
Teboho Mokgaligadi (T35) Age 24
100m Final – BRONZE (12.82s)
(Picture: Teboho Mokgaligadi (T35) age 24 in his orange running shoes on his way to winning bronze.)

Jonathan Ntutu (T13) Age 22
100m Final – 5th (11.06s)
200m Final - 8th (22.85s)
(Picture: “If you have to go, you have to go!” Jonathan Ntutu did as he was told and kept his knees up.)

Gavin Kilpatrick (B&VI) Age 26 &
Michael Thomson (Pilot)
Track (Pursuit) – 6th
Track (Pursuit) – 4th
Sprint – BRONZE
Janos Plekker (CP4) Age 24
Track (Pursuit) – 8th
Track 1km TT – 5th
Road TT – 8th
Road Race – 23rd
Riaan Nel (CP2) Age 27
Road TT – 5th
Road Race – SILVER
Roxy Burns (CP4) Age 19
Track 500m TT – 6th
Track (Pursuit) – 9th
Road TT – 10th
Susan v Staden (LC3) Age 36
Track 500m TT – 7th
Track (Pursuit) – 9th
Road TT – 9th
Ernst van Dyk (T54) Age 35
Road TT – 4th
HC C Road Race – GOLD (1:21.40)
Marathon T54 – BRONZE – (1:24)
(Picture: Even the elegant Chinese architecture could not distract Ernst as he headed for glory)

Kerry Noble (Gr II)
Ind. Champion – 17th
Ind. Freestyle – 17th
Marion Milne (Gr 1B) Age 23
Ind. Champion – 13th
Ind. Freestyle – 10th
Mark Frenzel (Gr1A) Age 20
Ind. Championship – 12th
Ind. Freestyle – 13th
Philippa Johnson (Gr IV) Age 33
Ind. Championship – GOLD
Ind. Freestyle - GOLD

Moekie Grobbelaar (Gr II) Age 49
52kg – 8th (80kg)

Aletta Moll (F3)
Singles - Lost 0-3
Team Final – Lost 0-3
Alisha Almeida (TT4) Age 30
Singles – Lost 0-3
Team Final – Lost 0-3
Jan du Plooy (TT7 – Les Autres)
Singles – Lost 0-3
Team Final – Lost 0-3
Pieter du Plooy
Singles – Lost 1-2
Team Final – Lost 0-3

Kgothatso Montjane (F44) Age 22
Singles – Lost 0-2
Sydwell Mathonsi Age 22
Singles – Lost 0-2

David Curle (3.5) Age 26
Grant Waites (4.0) Age 35
Jeremy Nel (4.0) Age 35
Justin Govender (1.0) Age 30
Marcus Retief (1.0) Age 32
Marius Papenfus (2.5) Age 30
Nicholas Taylor (2.0) Age 28
Ralph Williams (2.0) Age 39
Richard Nortje (4.5) Age 27
Shaun Hartnick (1.0) Age 34
Siphamandla Gumbi (3.0) Age 33
Thandile Zonke (3.5) Age 26
(Picture: Thandile Zonke and David Curle in action against Brazil in the fi nal game to decide positions 9 & 10. South Africa started the Paralympics in 12th place, they finished in 10th position.)

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