South Africa’s para-squad departed for Brazil yesterday to fly the flag, and go for gold, at the 2016 Paralympic Games that runs from 7-18 September in Rio de Janeiro.

The 45-member strong group is said to be a good mix of new and experienced athletes. While the likes of Ernst van Dyk and Zanele Situ (pictured) are competing at their seventh and fifth Games respectively, the squad includes a number of newcomers.

The athletics team is the most representative across the codes featuring 19 track and field athletes, as well as Khothatso Mokone, who will be guiding visually impaired runner Louzanne Coetzee in her quest for a podium.

There is only one change to the original squad that was announced on the 19th of July with long-jumper Andrea Dalle Ave replacing Union Sekailwe who had to withdraw due to injury.

“I am sad that I will not be participating but, I believe God has a reason and purpose for everything. I trust Him and the plan He has for my life. I will rise, and I wish our team the very best of luck in Rio,” said the London 2012 bronze medalist.

Although the team is smaller than the one that brought home 29 medals from London, SASCOC’s Tubby Reddy is confident that this team can produce an equally impressive result.

“When it comes to delivery for South African sporting glory our Paralympic aces have always put their hands up. I see Rio as being no different and we will be building on an amazing legacy,” Reddy told Road to Rio after the team announcement.

Track athletes included in the Rio-squad who won medals at the London Games are Arnu Fourie, Anruné Liebenberg, Dyan Buis, Fanie van der Merwe, Hilton Langenhoven, Ilse Carstens and Jonathan Ntutu.

The action starts next Thursday (8 September) when Hilton Langenhoven (400m), Arnu Fourie (100m), Mpumelelo Mhlongo (100m) and Liezel Gouws (100m) will be competing in the round one heats.

 

Written by: Liezel van Rensburg

Photo credit: Martin Potgieter