Western Cape Government Inspired by Paralympic Heroes
The Western Cape Paralympic athletes have inspired the Western Cape Government to replace portraits of politicians in the Provincial Legislature Building with those of the Western Cape SA London 2012 Paralympic gold medallists.
On Tuesday, 9 October 2012, the Premier of the Western Cape, Ms Helen Zille, Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sport, Dr Ivan Meyer, and other government and sport dignitaries paid homage to the provincial athletes for making the Western Cape proud and for being role models to the entire country. The provincial athletes won an impressive 18 out of the 29 medals Team SA won at the Paralympic Games in London earlier this year.
The Premier said that portraits of Charles Bouwer, Arnu Fourie, Fanie Van Der Merwe and Ilse Hayes will soon be unveiled at the Provincial Legislature Building. "We want real heroes to be displayed on our walls as we all are proud of the achievements attained by these athletes. This is an unbelievable achievement for all those living with disabilities, and to honour them, we’ve decided to portray their pictures in the office where all our important meetings take place," Premier Zille said.
Swimmer Charles Bouwer, who won two gold and two silver medals, and athletes, Ilse Hayes, one gold and one silver, Arnu Fourie, one gold and one bronze, and Fanie van der Merwe, one gold, were clearly ecstatic and could not contain their excitement. "This is absolutely awesome," said a beaming Bouwer.
Speaking on behalf of the group, Beijing gold medallist and London 2012 silver medallist, Ernst van Dyk, thanked the Premier and the minister for their amazing support. "It has been an amazing journey and London 2012 has finally placed the Paralympics right there alongside the Olympics," said van Dyk, who has competed in the last five Paralympics.
Premier Zille added that this government seeks to be the best-run regional government in the world, and that the athletes inspired them to aim for that. She also thanked the athletes for being the leaders of the Better Together message, as their achievements united the province as well as the country.
Minister Meyer said that today we not only celebrated the athletes, but also their coaching staff, families and the support of the country that rallied behind them to make this possible. He thanked the Premier for responding to the cultural warmth created by the athletes through their remarkable achievement by giving them cultural warmth. "The cultural warmth created by these athletes was felt by every South African and an international television audience of 70 billion people who witnessed their remarkable achievements and filled us with pride as, following Oscar Pretorius’ triumph at the final event, the South African Flag and South African National Anthem brought to a close the London 2012 Paralympics," said Minister Meyer.