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Airport abuzz as Team SA lands

2012-08-14 09:40
Team SA arrival (Gallo)
Johannesburg - A crowd gathered to welcome South Africa's Olympic heroes cheered on hearing they had arrived at OR Tambo International Airport, in Kempton Park, on Tuesday morning.

GALLERY: Team SA arrives home

Vuvuzelas sounded and schoolchildren joined a circle of people dancing and stamping their feet in anticipation of the appearance of the team.

"I love Caster," shouted Agnes Makena from Tembisa, through an enormous curly wig in the colours of the South African flag.

Crawford College Sandton pupils chanted school war cries when they were not singing shosholoza, and "welcome home" posters made by media houses were trampled underfoot.

"To know that someone from our school could go on to win a gold in the Olympics is like, wow," said one girl about gold-medal winning rower Matthew Brittain.

South Africa ended the Games as the highest African nation in the medals table, in 24th position with six medals -- three gold, two silver and one bronze.

Semenya won silver in the women's 800m, Bridgitte Hartley won bronze in the women's kayak single K-1500m sprint, rowers Sizwe Ndlovu, Matthew Brittain, John Smith and James Thompson won gold in the men's lightweight four.

Swimmers Chad le Clos won gold for the men's 200m butterfly and Cameron van der Burgh for the men's 100m breaststroke, in which he broke the world record. Le Clos also won silver when he tied for second in the 100m butterfly.

Rower Arnold Mathapa held up a banner made of paddles to welcome his fellow rowers home.

"I train with them and I know what it's like for them -- it's very inspiring," he said. Van der Burgh and Le Clos, who returned home on Thursday, would be at the airport to join the other medallists.

Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula, SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee leaders and the medallists were expected to address the crowd at the airport.

Government spokesman Jimmy Manyi said on Tuesday morning that the country was proud of the returning team.

"We join the multitudes of sport enthusiasts in congratulating our athletes for their best performance and grit at the games," he said in a statement.

"Team SA has emerged as shining stars and are now exemplary to those who want to achieve greatness. Government hopes that these achievements will inspire our local youth to follow in their steps and realise South Africa's dreams."

Manyi encouraged the country to honour the team by wearing the national sporting colours.

Earlier, Lead SA and the department of sport asked the public to give the team a heroes' welcome.

Read more on:    olympics 2012
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