'Do Mzansi proud at olympics'

File photo: Picture credit: Ntswe Mokoena. 27/07/08
File photo: Picture credit: Ntswe Mokoena. 27/07/08

Mcelwa Nchabeleng

Mcelwa Nchabeleng

South African athletes who will represent the country at the Olympics in Beijing next month have the potential to hoist the country's flag high.

These were the words of Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka at the farewell function in Johannesburg on Saturday night.

South African Olympians left for Deagu, Korea, yesterday for their final preparations for the Olympics, which will be held from August 8 to 24.

The swimming team, which comprises medal hopefuls such as Roland Schoeman, Ryk Neethling and Natalie du Toit, left for Korea last week.

"I'm delighted to join you tonight as we wish good luck to our capable sportsmen and women and say to them bring back the glory from the Olympics in Beijing.

"I know you have the capability to win medals there," said Mlambo-Ngcuka.

"We know that your commitment and excellent performance in the various sporting fields will make us proud. I congratulate you for putting in a lot of hard work and dedication to be selected to represent South Africa as part of the dream team.

"I am certain you will represent South Africa and place our country on the map as the men's swimming team did in Athens in 2004 and like Josiah Thugwane and Penny Heyns did at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

"I want to assure Team South Africa that the government and the sports-loving people of our country are behind you all the way since they see an opportunity for us to once again unite as one just as we did during the 2007 Rugby World Cup and how we will be during the 2010 World Cup," Mlambo-Ngcuka added.

She said it was fitting that the Olympics would be taking place in China, a country that has a long-standing history of friendship with South Africa since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1998.

"Our country draws inspiration from China and we will learn from their experiences in our quest to stage a successful world class event in 2010."

A delegation of the 2010 World Cup Local Organising Committee, led by chief executive Danny Jordaan, recently went to Beijing to learn from China's preparations for the Olympics ahead of the the quadrennial soccer showpiece.