Stellenbosch University managed to produce nearly a third of the Paralympic team set for the Paralympics in London between 29 August and 9 September.
Maties can boast with 19 athletes, 3 coaches, 1 Team Manager and 1 Physiotherapist that form part of team South Africa.
The announcement was made at SASCOC’s (South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee) Olympic House in June wher the names of the selected 62 athlete as well as managers and coaches were announced. The squad is spread over seven different codes including athletics, cycling, equestrian, rowing, swimming, wheelchair basketball and wheelchair tennis.
The athletics team will be the biggest with 25 athletes. Swimming will have 10 competitors. At the previous Paralympic games in Beijing, South Africa sent a team of 66 and between them they brought back 30 medals of which 21 were gold. No doubt Maties athletes will do their best maintain South Africa’s good track record at the Paralympics. Maties athletes included in the Paralympics team include Dyan Buis, Charl du Toit, Arnu Fourie, Ilse Hayes, Hilton Langenhoven, Anrune Liebenberg, Jan Nehro, Jonathan Ntutu, Anika Pretorius, Zanele Situ, Marius Stander and Fanie van der Merwe. Coaches Suzanne Ferreira and Karin le Roux will also be joining the squad.
Six time Paralympic medallist (3 Bronze, 2 Silver and 1 Gold) Ernst van Dyk and the rest of the Maties cyclists namely Roxy Burns, Madré Carinus, Stuart McCreadie will also seek to bring home their fair share of medals. They will be accompanied by their manager Mike Burns.
Current Paralympic champion in the 400 freestyle Charl Bouwer will seek more Gold at these games. Predictably his team mates Renette Bloem, Achmat Hassiem, Hendri Herbst and Eeden Meyer will want their own spots on the podium.
Coach Karin Hugo and physiotherapist Greshne Davids will be pushing the team to the edge to make sure that they end up on the desired podiums. With all these Maties competitors training five to six times a week for months now, one can be sure to say that Stellenbosch is going to welcome home a few medals not so long from now.
The first South Africans to represent their country at the Paralympics numbered just nine, way back at the 1964 Tokyo Paralympics and they set the benchmark by bringing back eight gold medals.
By: Nicholas Glanvill
Image: London Olympics 2012