The BEST is yet to come - from Beijing!

Having just spent a few days in Ekurhuleni at the Nedbank Championships for Physically Disabled, I am refreshed, proud and certain that the South African Paralympic team will once again do us proud in Beijing in 2008.

It was great to see so much new talent on display and most of all, how pleasing it was to see the “role models” on display too, and taking the trouble to spend time with young aspiring Paralympians. The simple fact is that we all need role models. The definition of a “role” model? – Marius Papenfus in an Armani suit!

Oscar Pistorius continues to confound the world of sprinting. At first he was showered with admiration, though I would now suggest that, within the hallowed halls of the IAAF, they are wishing he would simply go away.

The question is, will Oscar be allowed to compete in top level able-bodied competitions, or should he be precluded from participating for a variety of ‘reasons’, including advantageous equipment, less lactic acid production in his muscles during exertion etc? It’s all balderdash to me. As they said in the Movie, “Run, Forrest, run!”. So it should be, “Run, Oscar, run!” No wonder Tom Hanks is a keen taker on your story, Oscar!

It’s great to see Tadhg Slattery qualifying for Beijing. He is, in my opinion, one of our unsung heroes and simply one of only a handful of athletes who will have 5 Paralympic Games to his credit – go, you good thing!

Congratulations to Sibusiso Mogale for cracking the nod for Beijing in the swimming squad. Sbu has worked hard for this, and it’s a great effort well rewarded.

The two areas of this year’s Nedbank Sports Championships that stole the show for me were Boccia and CP soccer. The latter is a marketer’s dream, and SASAPD should quickly move to make this their flagship sport! It’s fast, exciting and a real spectator sport. My old friend, the legendary “Shakes” Mashaba was so very taken aback at the level of play, and what a pleasure to see the adulation from the players when “Shakes” presented them with their medals.

Perhaps it’s a sad day in that Malcolm Pringle has retired. You had a great innings and you were an outstanding ambassador, Malcolm. Congratulations on your outstanding career successes and good luck in the future. (Hopefully Malcolm will be lured into a valuable coaching role.)

For me, Malcolm will always be the personification of the SA Paralympic Team logo, a butterfly, and the Credo. He arrived in Atlanta in 1996 as a caterpillar and left as a beautiful butterfly – what a metamorphosis!

It was certainly a great accomplishment for SASAPD to have the President and Secretary General of IWAS (International Wheelchair and Amputee Sport Federation) in South Africa to witness the joint running of the Nedbank Championships and IWAS Junior Games. Many athletes from countries around the world, including Iran, Iraq, USA, Thailand and Sweden, came to SA to participate. Rumour has it that IWAS is considering setting up regional shop in South Africa! Nice one if they do!

By the time you read this, SASOL will have announced a huge sponsorship into the technical excellence program of Wheelchair basketball SA.

I am indeed proud to have brokered the deal and congratulate SASOL on this unbelievable injection into the game. SASOL have bought the rights to the National Team and officials, as an extension of their great support of great teams in South Africa.

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