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Heroes' welcome for SA's Paralympic team

2016-09-20 14:42
Kevin Paul (File)

Johannesburg - South Africa's Paralympic athletes returned home to a joyous welcome from hundreds of fans who were eagerly awaiting their arrival at OR Tambo International Airport on Tuesday.

WATCH: Gold medal winner Kevin Paul breaks out into a dance

Team South Africa brought back 17 medals from the Rio Games.

Sport and Recreation Minster Fikile Mbalula was once again quick to say that the athletes should get car upgrades and that he is the "Father Christmas of sport".

"I want to repeat that the athletes should graduate from driving small cars to driving big cars," he said.

As with the Olympic medallists, Mbalula promised bonuses for the athletes. Gold medallists will take home R400 000 (R100 000 for the coach). Silver medallists pocketed R200 000 (R50 000) while bronze medallists earned R80 000 (R20 000).

He said that the Paralympics team should be regarded as "a bunch of winners" - a phrase the minister regularly uses to describe victorious national teams.

Low media coverage

"When you are born with disabilities it's not the end of the road. We are all equal."

Mbalula expressed his disappointment with the low coverage in Rio by local media houses saying more journalists should be sent to cover the Paralympics.

"There were very few journalists at the Paralympics. I'm not blaming anyone as they did a great job of covering the event from South Africa. Maybe it was the budgets."

He added that although South Africa loves Usain Bolt, the country has many of its own Bolts.

Ntando Mahlangu who, at the young age of 14, won silver in the men's 200m - T42, received a hero's welcome from the crowd which included a large number of pupils from Laerskool Constantiapark, where he attends school.

Ernst van Dyk added gold in the men's road race - H5 to his already impressive medal tally. In 2012 Van Dyk took silver. In Beijing in 2008 he took home gold and bronze. In 2004 in Athens Van Dyk took home two silver medals and a bronze while he took home bronze in 2000 in Sydney.

Kevin Paul returned from Rio with his third Paralympics medal after clinching gold in the 100m breaststroke - SB9. In 2008 at the Beijing Paralympics the 25-year-old also took gold while in 2012 in London he won silver.

Paul couldn't resist breaking out into a dance upon arrival.

22nd on overall Paralympics table

Hilton Langenhoven took home gold in the men's long jump - T12 as well as silver in the men's 200m - T12. Langenhoven's achievement is in addition to the three gold medals he earned in Beijing in 2008 and the silver medals he took home from Athens in 2004 and in London in 2012.

Charl du Toit also bagged two gold medals in the men's 100m - T37 and men's 400m - T37.

First-time gold medallist Dyan Buis took first prize in the men's 400m - T38 and bronze in the men's long jump - T38. In London in 2012 Buis got two silver medals and one bronze.

Reinhardt Hamman took gold in the men's javelin throw - F38. 

Furthermore, there were silver medals for Ilse Hayes (women's 100m - T13 and women's 400m - T13), Anrune Liebenberg (women's 400m - T47) and Jonathan Ntutu (men's 100m - T12).

There were also bronze medals for Fanie van der Merwe (men's 100m - T37), Tyrone Pillay (men's shot put - T42) and Zanele Situ (women's javelin throw - F54).

The 17 medals the South African team raked in placed them 22nd on the overall Paralympics table in 2016. South Africa made its debut in the Paralympics in 1964 in Tokyo, Japan.

South Africa at the Paralympics:

1964 in Tokyo, Japan (19 medals – 8 gold, 8 silver and 3 bronze)
1968 in Tel Aviv, Israel (26 medals – 9 gold, 10 silver and 7 bronze)
1972 in Heidelberg, West Germany (41 medals – 16 gold, 12 silver and 13 bronze)
1976 in Toronto, Canada (26 medals – 6 gold, 9 silver and 11 bronze)
1992 in Barcelona, Spain (8 medals – 4 gold, 1 silver and 3 bronze)
1996 in Atlanta, United States (28 medals – 10 gold, 8 silver and 10 bronze)
2000 in Sydney, Australia (38 medals – 13 gold, 12 silver and 13 bronze)
2004 in Athens, Greece (35 medals – 15 gold 13 silver and 7 bronze)
2008 in Beijing, China (30 medals – 21 gold, 3 silver and 6 bronze)
2012 in London, Great Britain (29 medals – 8 gold, 12 silver and 9 bronze)
2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (17 medals - 7 gold, 6 silver and 4 bronze)

Read more on:    paralympics 2016  |  kevin paul
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