Carrying the flag pure gold for athlete

Medals are like water off a duck’s back for Zanele Situ.

But being chosen to carry the South African flag at the Paralympics opening ceremony in Rio is pure gold.

The javelin, shot put and discus thrower, 45, who heads for Rio tomorrow for her fifth Games, is humble about her achievements, choosing to focus on her forthcoming performance.

Situ, the first black South African to win a Paralympics gold way back in 2000 in Sydney, said: “It’s on God’s side. I will just [do] my best. A medal is just a bonus.”

She speaks with quiet pride about being named flag bearer.

“It was just after I came back from a competition in Europe when I heard the announcement. My mind went blank.

“It’s something you don’t believe. I didn’t have any words. “It’s something I’ll cherish.” Speaking at Coetzenburg stadium in Stellenbosch, Situ looked on as her daughter, Azamazi, 10, trained alongside other athletes, including those with disabilities.

Azamazi lit up when speaking about her dream of emulating her mother in any of the sports at which she excels – gymnastics, sprinting and high jump.

“I’m very proud of her. I want to give her something important by following in her footsteps and also doing sports,” she said.

Situ’s coach, Karin le Roux, said the Paralympian was “well prepared and ready to go”.

“She’s had a good build-up and is in excellent shape. She is where we want her to be.”

Despite her age, Situ was “still competing at her highest level”.

“Age is just a number to her,” Le Roux said.

As for the “baggy tracksuit” controversy – the South African Paralympians will wear the same Chinese-made garments that attracted criticism during the Olympics.

Situ was not fazed.

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