SA flag flies over Olympic Village
24 July 2012
South Africa's national flag proudly took its place among the 204 competing teams at Monday's official flag-raising ceremony at the Olympic Village in London.
Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula, South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) CEO Tubby Reddy and Team South Africa's Chef de Mission, Patience Shikwambana, were at the forefront as the team was welcomed in a dazzling display by a cast of 70 performers from the British National Youth Theatre.
To the tune of We are the Champions and Don’t Stop Me Now from top British rock band Queen, the team was entertained in a fun ceremony.
'Your time has come'
Minister Mbalula and Chef Shikwambana were then welcomed by the village mayor Charles Allen. "All the years of training and early mornings culminate now and your time has come," he told the assembled teams.
"Teams have come from all four corners of the world and we extend you a warm British welcome and we're very excited to have you here.
"We are here for you and you are the true champions."
Mbalula and Shikwambana then exchanged gifts with the Village Mayor, with the South African gift being a metallic statue of an African elephant.
Up to 50 welcoming/flag raising ceremonies are conducted daily before the Games begin officially this Friday.
Also on Monday, Reddy said that the South African cricket team's and golfer Ernie Els' victories on British soil in the past two days were sure to boost the chances of Team South Africa at the 2012 Olympic Games.
Graeme Smith's Proteas walloped England by an innings and 12 runs in the first test at The Oval, a day after Ernie Els surprised all and sundry by winning his second Open Golf Championship at Royal Lytha and Saint Annes.
"We couldn't have wished for a better boost for our 2012 Olympians as they embark on their medal race," said Reddy.
"Coach Gary Kirsten and captain Graeme Smith have done amazingly well to win the first of three tests against England. This should set them up for the rest of the tour and let there be no doubt that our Olympic competitors have watched this and taken note."
'South Africans are fighters'
"And Ernie's win was true testimony to his fighting spirit and lent crediblity to his position as an ambassador to Team South Africa. He was written off by so many people, but South Africans are fighters and he has proved that South Africa produces champion after champion.
"Our cricket and golf triumphs couldn't have come at a better time and I have no doubt that this is going to be a huge boost as our Olympic athletes start their own quest for glory this week."
Banyana Banyana will be the are the first South Africans in action at the Games when they face Sweden in Coventry on Wednesday in the women's football competition. Archer Karen Hultzer will be the first individual athlete in action on Friday.
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