'Late un' Gayton pays homage to Paralympians, vows to look for cash

Gayton McKenzie poses with some of the Team South Africa members bound for the Paris Paralympics.
Gayton McKenzie poses with some of the Team South Africa members bound for the Paris Paralympics.

Sport minister Gayton McKenzie arrived fashionably late for the naming of the Paralympic team in Johannesburg on Monday morning, but he promised to find money for struggling competitors.

He acknowledged that many athletes had to cope with problems at home, like “what they’re going to eat tomorrow or how they’re going to survive”, and he vowed to engage potential sponsors.

“I promise right here on this stage that I’m going to engage sponsors, I’m going to engage my own people in my department. Luckily I’m in charge,” he added with a laugh.

“Myself and [the team] is going to make sure that what you do on the sporting field for us, we’re going to do off the sporting field.”

He also made a point of thanking some of Sascoc’s bigger sponsors. “Sponsors shall be recognised, we shall appreciate you.”

The function started a little more than half-an-hour later than scheduled, only after McKenzie and his entourage had arrived.

But while the minister, who attended the Springbok-vs-Ireland Test on Saturday, might have been a late 'un, he spoke to the Paralympians with warmth, telling them they were “the greatest team” he would meet.

“You are the epitome of where we should be as South Africans. You have risen above your own circumstances. You are, for all of us, the greatest inspiration.

“I speak to many teams, but I want you to know that you are and will be the greatest team I will ever address and I have no doubt you will come back with gold.

“You are not going there to win, because you have already won, you have won because you have said, ‘whatever happened to me or my circumstances ... will not define who I am’, ‘I will be who I want to be in life’.”


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