London Calling

The London 2012Paralympic Games will include 19 sport codes with approximately 4000 athletesfrom over 140 participating countries. It’s time to take stock and analyse TeamSouth Africa for the London 2012Paralympic Games as announced by SASCOC. Itis heartening to see that the team comprisesa blend of proven talent and, more impressively, that no less than 50% of the62 strong contingent are, technically, Paralympic rookies! 12 of the 62 arebasketball players and can thus only yield a single medal. So, for the purposeof my prediction, we shall reduce the team to 51 (counting the team as one).

Previous data suggeststhat, in general, athletes attending their second or third Paralympic Gamesyield more medals than rookies - who are often subjected to huge pressure ontheir first time out on the big stage. Team South Africa reads as follows:Rookies = 32; 2nd Games = 14; 3rd Games = 12; 4thGames = 1; 5th Games = 1 - MichaelLouwrens and 6th Games = 2 - Ernst van Dyk and Tadhg Slattery – a huge achievement!

International iconsNatalie du Toit and Oscar Pistorius will lead the charge with key resultsanticipated from field and track stars Ilse Hayes, Tebogo Mokgalagadi, HiltonLangenhoven, Fanie van der Merwe; Equestrian supremo Philippa Johnson andswimming duo Kevin Paul and Charl Bouwer. Others in the medal mix could includehand cyclist Ernst van Dyk; track and field athletes Jonathan Ntutu, AnruneLiebenberg, Zanele Situ, Dyan Buys; cyclists Madre Carinus, Roxy Burns and JacoNel and more from the pool in the form of Shireen Sapiro, Hendri Herbst and the“old man of the sea” Tadhg Slattery. I also fancy the men’s 4 x 100m relay team- provided they don’t drop the baton!

Paralympic medals arehard to come by and, whilst all who qualify will not win one, for those who doit’s an enormous honour and achievement. For those who don’t, you did your bestand to those on your first Paralympic adventure: capitalise on the experience,bask in the glory of having been there and, when you return to South Africa,reflect and set your sights for greater things at Rio 2016.

I am confident that TeamSouth Africa will, as always, hold their heads high and make the nation proud.

Myprediction is a total of 42 medals: 18 gold, 12 silver and 12 bronze. Ifachieved this would place us between 06th –08th onthe medal table – fantastic!

See you in London!