Pistorius is due to head to Europe to try and qualify for the London 2012 Olympics, having already achieved one qualifying time, and has qualified for the Paralympics as well.
But Pistorius’ decision to run in Durban this week will go a long way
further than just his race, as it inspires the next generation of Paralympic athletes to try and emulate his feats, Nedbank’s head of Sponsorship Andy Scott believes.
After the Nedbank Championships delivered some strong performances,
especially on the track and in the pool, Scott praised the selflessness of the top athletes, who serve as good role models to the younger athletes.
“The weather has been kind in Durban to the athletes. A lot of the athletes have decided to use this as their final shot to qualify. From a Nedbank perspective, we are absolutely delighted that a lot of the known Paralympians – and particularly some of the icons in the sport, the likes of Oscar Pistorius, Charl Bouwer, Kevin Paul, Ilse Hayes and Teboho Mokgaladi to name a few – have come here to compete,” Scott said.
“They have come to compete, not only for their own personal achievements, but to also be a role model for those younger athletes that need role models. To see them here inspiring other athletes has been exceptional.”
Scott, a former Paralympic athlete himself and involved in the sport for more than 20 years, believes that South Africa will field a strong team at this year’s Paralympics, one which will continue to inspire the nation.
“As an outsider it’s always tough to predict medal hauls but after watching the athletes at these championships I feel it is going to be more about quality than quantity. Any team that can go into battle with a Natalie du Toit and Oscar Pistorius as your spearheads is a strong one. They not only achieve their own personal heights but also inspire their team-mates onto bigger and better things.
“Let’s not forget the likes of Hilton Langenhoven and Equestrian Phillipa Johnson and the Wheelchair Basketball guys. There is a great mix of youth and experience here in this team. The real question is past London 2012 as there are a number of athletes, who may not admit it, but are in the twilight of their careers.
“Looking at the track there is some serious talent coming through and while some of that talent is driven by their inner soul, it is also driven by the want to compete with the likes of Oscar Pistorius and Natalie du Toit. The SASAPD has played a vital role in unearthing this talent.”
As one of the main sponsors of the Paralympic team, Nedbank will be placing certain financial incentives for the athletes going to London. In doing so, Scott also had a pleasant financial surprise for the athletes that qualify.
“Nedbank has joined forces with the other partners in creating the “Pot of Gold” – which gives incentives to athletes for doing well at the Paralympics. Then at these Championships we have previously appointed brand ambassadors in conjunction with SASAPD,” Scott explained.
“This year we decided that that programme was so successful that it was difficult to select brand ambassadors. We decided to select the entire Paralympic team as our brand ambassador and to split that money that we would have ploughed into that programme. Each athlete will now get an allowance to help them along in their preparations.
“Over and above that we’ve given out 64 kits in conjunction with our
involvement in the Nedbank Cup, giving kit and equipment to certain select schools in South Africa. We have also said to the CPED soccer semi-finalists that we will donate kit to them or to a school of their choosing.”
SASAPD will forward a list of recommendations to SASCOC at the end of the meet for selections to this year’s Paralympics.