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Sponsors will get us flying down in Rio

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The London Olympics are over and participants are reflecting on their achievements and failures.

For most countries, preparations will start immediately for Rio 2016.

Team SA is returning this morning with six medals.

Swimmers Cameron van der Burgh and Chad Le Clos; rowers Sizwe Ndlovu, Matthew Brittain, James Thompson and John Smith; silver medallist Caster Semenya; and kayak bronze medallist Bridgitte Hartley all did our nation proud.

But let’s not forget that all the other Team SA members are also winners.

They did their best, and although they are not bringing medals home, they brought our nation together.

Thousands gathered at OR Tambo International Airport to welcome the “golden boys” – Van der Burgh and Le Clos – last Thursday.

The swimmers certainly did not expect the warm reception they received and were taken by surprise.

It took them years of hard work to become stars and they have become household names.

Top Spot in the Pretoria News on Saturday said: “What is really impressive is how well Cameron and Chad spoke, not only of their own achievements and ambitions, but of the support they received from other Team SA members and their desire to be involved in growing swimming in SA.

“SA has relatively few swimmers compared with other nations competing at the London Olympics, and the fact that Cameron and Chad trained at home gives an idea of what can be achieved.”

Van der Burgh’s former school, Crawford College in the city, can be proud.

We now need to seize the opportunity and grow sport at all levels.

Swimming SA is in search of sponsorship.

Now is the time for corporate SA to jump on board and invest in our future.

Van der Burgh and Le Clos certainly put swimming on the map.

Team SA’s performance at the Olympics was the best post-isolation.

Oscar Pistorius remains a legend.

Despite many hurdles over the years, he brought his best onto the track and did SA proud.

And let’s not forget the other members of Team SA who came so close to winning medals, such as javelin thrower Sunette Viljoen and mountain bike racer Burry Stander.

Watching Semenya run on Saturday to win silver was a proud moment for millions across our country.

While many expected her to win gold, taking second place after many years of hardship and humiliation is a major accomplishment.

It’s sad when some writers on social media platforms make sickening jokes about Semenya and Pistorious.

They deserve respect. There is a time and place for humour.

The hard work for the next Games in four years begins now.

Let’s celebrate our successes and roll up our sleeves.

The government also needs to put its money where its mouth is and ensure that funds and facilities are provided to grow and develop new and existing talent.

Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula certainly helped boost the morale of Team SA.

Unlike his predecessors, he takes an active role and is always in the forefront.

Now is the time for Mbalula to ensure that cash is pumped into the various sporting codes to enable us to produce many more Olympians.

It is encouraging to see much effort going into school sport. This is one area which needs special attention.

Our future Olympians are waiting on the sidelines. We need to give them the best facilities, the best training and the best support.

Our Olympic participation and success has once again proved that sport unites a nation.

Our achievements in London have created unity and patriotism here at home. We are a proud nation – thanks to the half a dozen medals our sportsmen and women will be bringing home.

Team SA’s performance was the best in Africa. Here is yet another reason to celebrate.

LeadSA, in partnership with the Department of Sport and Recreation and the SA Sports Confederation & Olympic Committee, is driving the welcome home plans.

Meanwhile, the SA Paralympic team leaves for London next week.

We need to get fully behind Team SA again.

Our participants will again show the world that despite adversity, they can still achieve.


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