CAPE TOWN - Mzansi finally had their chance to celebrate Team South Africa’s successes at the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics this year with an open-top bus parade through the streets of Pretoria and Johannesburg on Thursday.
Swimmer Tatjana Schoenmaker won a gold and silver medal in the Olympic breaststroke event in Japan, while Bianca Buitendag grabbed a silver.
There were seven SA medallists in the Paralympics, with athletics stars Anrune Weyers and Ntando Mahlangu (two), and cycling’s Pieter du Preez taking gold, while Louzanne Coetzee (athletics) was the lone silver winner. Coetzee and Sheryl James (athletics) claimed bronze medals as well.
The bus that they travelled on was adorned with billboard-style images of the medallists and their names below.
Celebrating our Olympic & Paralympic champions today! Look out for them in Pretoria & Johannesburg this afternoon 🚌![CDATA]>🇿![CDATA]>🇦— Team South Africa (@TeamSA2020) September 30, 2021
Next stop, Hatfield, Pretoria! pic.twitter.com/edKGsnDH65
The parade went on the following route through Pretoria and Johannesburg: High Performance Centre, then past the National Lotteries Commission offices, a stop at Affies (Mahlangu’s school), through Esselen Street (Sunnyside) and Pretorius Street into the Pretoria CBD. Then a turn right into Bosman Street, turn right into Church Square, where there was a three-minute stop to greet the public.
Then the convoy went on to Madiba Street, and turned right into Sisulu Street, joining R21. The parade continued to Olifantsfontein and Tembisa via Hospital View, through Andrew Mapheto Drive and joined R25.
It concluded by going through Alexandra via London Road, and went into Sandton, with a drive to the Johannesburg CBD via Nelson Mandela Bridge, passing by Carlton Centre.
Later on Thursday night, a ‘Recognition of Excellence’ gala dinner was hosted by Sports Minister Nathi Mthethwa at the Birchwood Hotel and Conference Centre.
“Come say hi and celebrate Olympic and Paralympic medal winners,” Schoenmaker posted on her Instagram stories before the event, and later during the parade, she uploaded a video of fans outside the National Lottery Commission’s offices waving South African flags with the caption: “Wow such amazing spirit for Team @SA_NLC Thank you for all the support.”
The SA Paralympic medallists and their coaches will also be rewarded financially by the government, Mthethwa announced a few weeks ago.
For a gold medal, the athlete will receive R450 000 and the coach R120 000. For a silver medal, the athlete will get R220 000 and the coach R70 000, and for a bronze medal, the athlete will be awarded R100 000 and the coach R30 000.
In addition, a world record will result in R180 000 for the athlete only.