Premier Zille Hosts Western Cape Paralympians
This morning, Tuesday, 9 October, Premier Helen Zille hosted a tea with provincial Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sport, Dr Ivan Meyer, to honour and celebrate Western Cape Paralympians who participated in the 2012 London Paralympic Games. The Western Cape contingent of the South African Paralympic team demonstrated a notable level of sporting excellence, with 18 of the 29 medals brought back from the 2012 Paralympic Games by Team SA having been awarded to athletes from the Western Cape.
Premier Zille praised the Western Cape Paralympians for having shown all South Africans “what our Constitution means in action”. Addressing the Paralympians, she explained, “What the Games meant for us in South Africa was to see effort rewarded and to be inspired by people who have put their life’s determination into achieving something and then doing it. As people who have disabilities, you have shown yourselves to be strong and proud enough to know who you are, to choose your own identity, not to have a label stuck on you and to decide what you are going to do with your lives, so that you can be the best that you can be.”
She said that the extent to which the Paralympians had garnered accolades at the 2012 Games beyond expectation should inspire every South African to ask themselves "What identity do I want to choose in my life and how do I strive to achieve that, irrespective of the labels and the presuppositions and the stereotypes that society wishes to place on me?" and she highlighted that this is a struggle of every South African, adding, “It transcends race, it transcends gender, it transcends sexual orientation – the right to be who you are, to become the best you can be and live a life you value.”
Congratulating the Paralympians for their numerous gold, silver and bronze medal awards, Premier Zille also praised the athletes for representing the best of the South African spirit at the 2012 Paralympic Games. She cited a story highlighting the impression that the South African Paralympians made in London: “Of the volunteers who assisted various teams, they said that Team South Africa was the best assignment. They said that the team involved them in everything they did and made them part of the South African delegation. One volunteer was quoted by the Sapa as saying: ‘I love it. I want to be South African, that's how much I love it, and I'm going to cry when it's over because I don't want to go back to work.’ You were brilliant sports ambassadors but were also ambassadors of another kind too: of the South African spirit and of integrity.”
Premier Zille announced that the Western Cape Government would be instituting a new tradition to celebrate the legacy and achievements of the Paralympians. She explained, “I have instructed that in this media room, all pictures of politicians will come down so that they can be replaced with the gold medallists that the Western Cape produces at the Paralympics and the Olympics. I want pictures of real heroes to be up here. I want pictures of role models of what it means to be South African: people who make an effort, who have vision and focus and don’t feel sorry for themselves but rather transcend their circumstances. That is the real spirit of Nelson Mandela and of South Africa.”