SA's Paralympic medallists to earn same incentives as Olympic stars

Kat Swanepoel at the national championships in Gqeberha in April.
Kat Swanepoel at the national championships in Gqeberha in April.
Image: Anton Geyser/Gallo Images

South Africa’s Paralympic medallists in Paris will receive the same incentives as their Olympic counterparts, but spare a thought for ace swimmer Kat Swanepoel who has been reclassified out of podium contention.

Wheelchair-bound Swanepoel, who on Monday was named in the initial 24-competitor-strong team for the showpiece from August 28 to September 8, recently had her classification changed from S4 to S5, where she will now go up against competitors who can walk and kick.

The double-world swimming champion from 2023 was diagnosed with primary progressive multiple sclerosis when she was 21 and two years later she had to use a wheelchair full time.

She started playing wheelchair basketball and made the national team before the disease affected her hands, forcing her to move to wheelchair rugby where she also represented the country.

But when Swanepoel started struggling with neck instability, along with a detached retina which left her blind in the left eye, she switched to swimming.

She won golds in the 150m individual medley and 50m backstroke at the world championships last year, as well as silver in the 50m breaststroke.

But Swanepoel’s classification was changed at an international competition earlier this year, forcing her to learn butterfly to swim the 200m IM in Paris.

“I’ve never swum 'fly until about two months ago,” said the 36-year-old. She will also compete in the 200m freestyle, 100m breaststroke and 50m backstroke.

Asked how the 'fly was going, the occupational therapist based in Benoni replied with a laugh: “I haven’t drowned yet.”

Swanepoel was good enough to qualify for the Games in the tougher category, but she has slipped from the top of the world to being a competitor. “I went, for instance with my backstroke, from being ranked first in the world to, I think, 15th in the world.”

South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) president Barry Hendricks announced an incentive for Paralympians making the podium.

Gold is worth R400,000, silver R200,000 and bronze R75,000, with their coaches receiving R100,000, R50,000 and R25,000 respectively.

Guides of visually impaired athletes will be paid the same as coaches.

In the sport of boccia, where South Africa has a two-person team, the incentives stand at R200,000 per athlete for gold, R100,000 each for silver and R40,000 each for bronze. The coaches get the same for gold and silver, but will pocket R20,000 for bronze.

One athlete in the running for a medal is discus thrower Simoné Kruger, though hopefully Sascoc will learn to pronounce her first name correctly — the é at the end is not silent — if she wins an incentive. Her name was mispronounced twice, once by Hendricks and once in the video naming the athletes.

“We have a coloured medal in our minds, we have a certain one, but I think with how the training is going and how the year is going so far, I think there’s a good chance to hopefully achieve the goal I want to,” said 19-year-old Kruger, the 2023 world champion who has cerebral palsy.

At 51 archer Shaun Anderson is probably the oldest competitor, and he was quietly confident that he could lift his performance at his third Games. He ended 17th at Rio 2016, competing standing up, and seventh at Tokyo 2020 in a wheelchair.

Anderson, who lost his left arm in a motorcycle accident almost 21 years ago, was paralysed in a boating accident in 2016. He has developed a trigger system with a mouth plate that allows him to release the arrow far easier than previously.

“I don’t want to talk about medals, I don’t want to jinx it,” he said. “But if I can put what I’ve been doing in training into the competition, I can do well.”

It’s possible a few more names may be added to the squad.

The team named on Monday is:


  • Men: Shaun Anderson (W1)
  • Management: Barbara Manning


  • Men: Mpumelelo Mhlongo (T44 100m and long jump), Kerwin Noemda (F46 shot put), Puseletso Mabote (T63 100m and long jump), Collen Mahlalela (T47 400m), Khumo Pitso (T46 high jump), Jaco Smit (T12 100m), Daniel du Plessis (T62 400m), Hermanus Blom (F12 shot put), Erasmus Badenhorst (guide, 1500m), Claus Kempen (guide, marathon)
  • Women: Simoné Kruger (T38 discus), Sheryl James (T37 100m, 200m, 400m), Louzanne Coetzee (T11 1500m and marathon), Liezel Gouws (T37 200m and long jump), Yane van der Merwe (F44 discus)
  • Management: Lappies Swanepoel, Jason Sewanyana, Michael Louwrens, Daniel Damon


  • Men: Karabo Cassius Morapedi (BC3), Matobako Vincent Ramochela (BC3 ramp operator)
  • Women: Elanza Jordaan (BC3), Sandre Jordaan (BC3 ramp operator)
  • Manager: Reinet Barnard, Marisa Potgieter


  • Men: Pieter du Preez
  • Management: Mark Williams (mechanic), Ilse du Preez


  • Women: Philippa Johnson-Dwyer, Christiaan Haazen (groom)
  • Manager: Ingeborg Sanne


  • Men: Nathan Hendricks (S13 200m individual medley, 100m backstroke, SB13 100m breaststroke), Christian Sadie (S7 50m butterfly, 100m backstroke, 50m freestyle, SM7 200m individual medley)
  • Women: Alani Ferreira (S12 400m freestyle, SB12 100m breaststroke, SM12 200m Individual Medley, S12-S13 100m butterfly), Danika Vyncke (SB13 100m breaststroke), Kat Swanepoel (SM5 200m Individual Medley, S5 50m backstroke, 100m freestyle, 200m freestyle, SB4 100m breaststroke, S14 400m freestyle)
  • Management: Theo Verster, Chad Peterson, Julayga Cassim


  • Men: Alwande Sikhosana



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