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22 May 2012 10:22
Oscar Pistorius. (Eric Lalmand, AFP)
Pistorius won three gold medals at the Paralympic Games in Beijing four years ago and fellow amputee Du Toit secured five medals shortly after competing at the able-bodied Olympics.
“The general sporting public often seem to overlook the Paralympics, coming as they do around two weeks after the conclusion of the sporting extravaganza that is the Olympic Games every four years,” said Sascoc vice-president Hajera Kajee.
“But here in South Africa two of our leading sports personalities happen to be Paralympians. I’m talking about Oscar and Natalie.
“Between these two fine people, they have taken huge strides and gone to great lengths to give not only Paralympic sport, but South African sport in general, much-needed global exposure.”
Fit and healthy“Both have shone ever so brightly on the international scene and I am sure that they will continue to do so in London this year.”
Pistorius and Du Toit have yet to qualify for the able-bodied Olympics in the English capital, having to spread their wings abroad in an effort to reach the required standards, but both are certainties, provided they are fit and healthy, for the disability event.
Ilse Hayes, who won gold in the long jump (F13) and silver in the 100m dash (T13) in Beijing, said they were heading overseas to train in warmer conditions in the build-up to the London Paralympics in August.
“We are off to train overseas in June and July and also fitting in two competitions in Germany and the Netherlands,” Hayes said.
“We are very excited about that.”
Quadrennial showpieceSprinter Fanie van der Merwe, a double gold medalist in the T37 category in Beijing, insisted they were not resting on their laurels as they prepared for the quadrennial showpiece.
“One thing I have realised for these Games is that we should put Beijing behind us and get a new focus – not comparing the two – because it will be a completely new experience.
Time is short now,” Van der Merwe said.
“We will be here for the next month, then in Europe for a month, then back here for the last pre-competition preparations.”
The SA Paralympic team in London will hope to improve on their 30-strong medal count from Beijing, where they earned 21 gold medals.
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