The South African Special Olympics team have set a gold standard at the official seat of government. Ascending to the highest order fit for champions, their recognition by His Excellency, President Cyril Ramaphosa at the Union Buildings was an occasion to marvel at. This is after their return from the 2023 Special Olympics World Summer Games that were held in Berlin, Germany.
Competing alongside 7 000 athletes from over 180 countries, Team South Africa was not about to leave Europe without planting our national flag at the summit of the Special Olympics mountain. True to their Mzansi nature, our athletes came home with a whopping 49 medals made up of 22 Gold, 20 Silver and 7 Bronze medals for their outstanding performance in Berlin. Among these champions were 100m backstroke gold medalists, Melokuhle Dube who won in the Men’s category and Bronwyn Ramathula who won the title in the Women’s category.
Reiterating what Special Olympics South Africa has always been about for decades, President Ramaphosa cited that South Africa is honoured to be among the first countries to support the Special Olympics Global Leadership Coalition for inclusion. He further highlighted that this reflects our country’s commitment to the inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities in all areas of our society. Full of optimism, President Ramaphosa said: “Our flag is currently flying at the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup and the Rugby World Cup and we all know the Proteas and Springboks will draw inspiration from your achievements in Berlin”.
For us, this serves as validation of the limitless possibilities we can achieve when we are all given an equal and fair opportunity to showcase our innate talents in a world that is yet to catch up to special abilities. His Excellency, President Cyril Ramaphosa was not alone in doing the honours at the Union Buildings on 4 October 2023. He was accompanied by fellow government representatives and various stakeholders. Among those in attendance were the Special Olympics South Africa Chairperson: Dr. Mathews Phosa, Gauteng province premier: Panyaza Lesufi, Special Olympics South Africa CEO: Ancilla Smith and the team’s coaching and support staff.
The success of the Special Olympics South Africa is testament to the unbreakable spirit of South Africans and the amazing things that can be achieved when a nation comes together to support and uplift its athletes.