121009-Western Cape Paralympics Team- The Western Cape Premier, Helen Zille and Dr Ivan Meyer; Provincial Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sport met with the Western Capes' members of the South African Paralympic team that took part in the London 2012 Paralympic Games, to Comgradulate the them on their sterling Performance. Article: Jason Felix. Picture: Greg Maxwell

Jason Felix

THE Western Cape administration building is going to undergo a “makeover” this month – pictures of politicians will be taken down in the media room and those of our winning paralympians will go up instead.

Premier Helen Zille made this promise yesterday when she feted the athletes at a special lunch.

“We will take down the pictures of politicians and hang up your pictures, because your tremendous performance is evident that despite your disabilities, you can perform very well,” Zille told them.

The pictures to come down are those of Zille, President Jacob Zuma and Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe.

The gold medallists from Cape Town were Ilse Hays, Arno Fourie, Fanie van der Merwe and Charl Bouers.

Competitors from the Western Cape scooped up 18 of the 29 medals won by the SA team.

Jonathan Ntutu, 26, who is visually impaired, won a bronze medal in the 100m.

Ntutu said he called his mother Sylvia before every race.

“Before every race I would call my mother. The loving way in which she spoke to me, made me calm,” Ntutu said.

Ntutu, from Gugulethu, Cape Town, was the first South African to take part in the 100m, which he said was his highlight.

“I had to set the tone for the rest of our athletes. It was a tremendous honour. I would have loved to claim gold but it was not for me,” Ntutu said.

In 1992, at the age of 20, his parents, who struggled financially, enrolled him at the Athlone School for the Blind as mainstream schools could not cater for his special needs.

His father Alexander died in 1996.

Ntutu said he was inspired to work harder by a pupil at his school who went to the 2000 Paralympic Games. He started training with a local trainer, William Davids, at the Vygieskraal Stadium in Athlone in the same year.

Ntutu’s efforts were rewarded with a spot in the SA team for the 2004 Summer Paralympic Games in Athens. He won no medals.

At the 2006 Paralympic World Championships in the Netherlands, he won a bronze medal.

Athlete Hilton Langeveldt, a silver medallist at the London Games, invited him to train with the SA Paralympic team in Stellenbosch.

“The coaches there were impressed and chose me for the team to go to London. It was the best moment in my life,” he said.

Charles Bouers, a 400m runner, who won a gold and two silver medals at the Games, was happy with his overall performance.

Cultural Affairs and Sport MEC Ivan Meyer said: “Our province’s disabled athletes have changed the perception and stigma attached to being disabled for the good.”