Editorials 17.9.2016 08:14 am

Let’s celebrate our Paralympians! It’s about more than medals

 South Africa's Charl du Toit during the 400m final at the 2016 Paralympic Games on September 16, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Wessel Oosthuizen/Gallo Images).
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South Africa's Charl du Toit during the 400m final at the 2016 Paralympic Games on September 16, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Wessel Oosthuizen/Gallo Images). Date Created:

As a nation, we should celebrate all the Paralympians taking part in Rio.

The number of medals our brave South African team bring back from the Rio de Janeiro Paralympics is not important.

Heading into the final weekend of competition, it looks as though South Africa will fall well short of the 29 medals (eight gold) they brought back from London four years ago, the 30 (21 gold) they won in Beijing in 2008 or the staggering 35 (15 gold) they secured in Athens in 2004.

As a nation, we should celebrate all the Paralympians taking part in Rio. These men and women – and sometimes teenagers – have already overcome chronic disabilities. That they are competing on the world stage is a massive achievement on its own.

READ MORE: Double champ Du Toit lifts SA tally

One needs to look no further than veteran road cyclist Ernst van Dyk for inspiration. The 43-year-old Van Dyk, who has won a record 10 wheelchair titles in the Boston Marathon, is at his seventh straight – and his final – Games.

On Thursday, he won gold for his country in the H5 road race after a sprint finish to claim his eighth Paralympic medal. “It’s my last cycling race. I thought it would be great just to end it with a medal, but a gold …” he told The Star newspaper. Inspirational indeed.

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