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South African paralympians ready for London

06-23-2012 02:43 BJT Special Report: 2012 London Olympic Games |

As Oscar Pistorius and Natalie du Toit continue their pursuit of a place at the London Olympics, both can at least take some comfort that they are in South Africa's Paralympic team. South Africa punched above their weight in the Beijing Paralympics, finishing sixth and claiming 21 gold medals. And as Daniel Williams reports, the class of 2012 believe they can do even better.

South African Oscar Pistorius, right, is followed by Christoph
Bausch of Switzerland as they compete in the 100m T44 during
the Beijing Paralympic Games.

 
A proud moment in the lives of these athletes. Confirmation that they will represent their country at the London 2012 Paralympics. Relief that all the hard graft was worth it.

Shireen Sapiro, 2008 Paralympic Champion: "It's very overwhelming and it's also very exciting. I mean you train for four years to build up to something as amazing s this and to hear your name being called out it's an amazing dream come true" South Africa has become a leading light in the Paralympics. In Beijing, they finished 6th, ahead of Russia, Germany and France and that's despite a much lower budget. So how does South Africa do it? This is Kevin Paul. He was born with Poland Syndrome, which means he's missing his pectoral muscles on the left side of his chest. He won gold in the 100M breastroke in 2008. He thinks the country's Paralympic success is built into its DNA.

Kevin Paul, 2008 Paralympic Champion: "We make the best of what we've got. And it's not about the money it's about making your country proud and making yourself proud. And I think it's because we are such a rainbow nation. You have got so many different cultures and ethnicities. And when we stand on the block we're not there representing ourselves we are representing this entire country behind us." Then of course there are the international trailblazers Oscar Pistorius and Natalie du Toit. They've done more than most to break down attitudes towards Paralympians. And their incredible achievements have inspired others.

Gideon Sam/-Sascoc President: "Oscar is like a superstar, Natalie is a superstar. What that has done to the Paralympic movement in South Africa is to say to people I can also do that."

Kevin Paul/-2008 Paralympic Champion: "When it comes to disabled people and the Paralympics, I feel those people are just proving what the human body is actually capable of doing. And now you've go the Natalie Dut Toit's and Oscar Pistorius' showing the people that they are disabled but they are on the same level as able bodied people." In 2008, South Africa sent 66 athletes - returning with 30 medals. This time they are only sending 62 athletes but the hunger to beat their previous accomplishments is clear. And who would bet against them.

Editor:James |Source: CNTV

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