Johannesburg – Oscar Pistorius, the athlete who won the hearts of millions at the Olympic Games, will be the flag bearer for Team South Africa at the opening ceremony of the London Paralympics next week.
The double amputee, who made history by competing in the recent able-bodied Games, was unable to attend the Paralympic team’s farewell banquet in Johannesburg on Monday night, but 100 metres breaststroke gold medallist Cameron van der Burgh said the 'Blade Runner' deserved the honour.
“I’m a good friend of Oscar’s and he is a remarkable guy who has broken through barriers,” said Van der Burgh.
“Going over to the Olympics and representing South Africa was a major step and he overcame a lot of obstacles to get there.
“I was fortunate enough to be there when he ran his 400m semi-final and the reception that he got after he finished the race, even though he didn’t make the final, was amazing.
“The noise in the stadium was probably louder than it was when Usain Bolt won the 100m final.”
Van der Burgh said he felt honoured to be invited to the banquet after missing the Olympic farewell dinner, as the swimmers were already overseas at the time.
“It is so inspiring for me to see how you all inspire the rest of the world,” Van der Burgh told the Paralympians.
“I’m not going to stand here and give you guys a motivational speech or talk about goal-setting or how to handle the pressure because you guys have done it all before.
“You’ve brought home so many medals from the previous Paralympic Games so we Olympians should be taking advice from you.
“What we do, we sometimes take for granted, but you guys have so many challenges along the way and I’m really proud to be here with you, and now I’m one of your biggest supporters.
“So when you guys are racing, I will be watching – so go and make us proud.” –Sapa