The spotlight is now on the SA Paralympics team as the countdown to the opening ceremony of the 2016 Paralympic Games continues.
The event will be held in Rio from September 7-18 and the South Africans‚ who departed for Brazil on Tuesday‚ have the tough task of surpassing the haul of 29 medals – eight gold‚ 12 silver and nine bronze — they managed at the London Games four years ago.
But who are the men and women who are expected to pick up the baton from Wayde van Niekerk‚ Caster Semenya‚ Chad le Clos‚ Luvo Manyonga‚ Sunette Viljoen‚ Cameron van der Burgh‚ Lawrence Brittain‚ Shaun Keeling and Henri Schoeman?
Shireen Sapiro (Swimming)
Shapiro was involved in a skiing accident in 2004 which left her left leg paralysed.
After clinching gold at the 2008 Games in Beijing in the 100m backstroke and then only returning with bronze from London in 2012‚ the 25-year-old Krugersdorp-born swimmer will be eager to reclaim gold in her third participation at the Paralympics.
Ilse Carstens (Track and Field)
The visually impaired Carstens (nee Hayes) was the fasted female Paralympian in 2015.
The 31-year-old won gold in the long jump both in 2008 in Beijing and at the 2012 London Games.
She will be out to clinch her third consecutive Paralympics long jump gold and could add a 100m medal as she did with the two silvers she won in 2008 and 2012.
Kgothatso Montjane (Tennis)
With a current world ranking of 10th place‚ Montjane stands a good chance of returning home with a medal from the Games.
After dominating on the doubles circuit recently‚ she will have gained some confidence going into the Paralympics.
Montjane will be eager to claim her first Paralympic medal after unsuccessful attempts in 2008 and 2012.
The 30-year-old has been consistently ranked in the top ten international list since 2005‚ reaching her highest ranking‚ fifth‚ in 2011.
Ernst van Dyk (Wheelchair Cycling)
The SA Paralympic team would not be complete without the veteran wheelchair racer and handcyclist who has taken part in every Paralympic Games since 1992.
Whenever the 43-year-old takes part expectation for a podium finish are always high.
It will be no different in Rio.
After failing to retain the gold medal he won in Beijing in the last Paralympics — he finished with a silver in London in the cycling road race — Van Dyk will be set to reclaim his title from Italian rival Alex Zanardi.
Hilton Langenhoven (Track and Field)
The visually impaired Langehoven has dominated the track and field for a while now and remains one of SA’s most decorated Paralympians.
Perhaps his peak was at the Beijing Games where he returned with no less than three gold medals – from the pentathlon‚ 200m and long jump.
The 33-year-old‚ participating in his fourth Games‚ will be looking to add to the Team SA haul.
Lucas Sithole (Tennis)
After being knocked out in the last 16 stage at the Paralympic Games in London in 2012‚ Sithole will have an axe to grind in Brazil.
Wheelchair tennis cannot be mentioned in South Africa without zoning in on the decorated 29-year-old Sithole.
His colourful personality matches his strong performances on the court.
With a current No3 world ranking‚ Sithole stand his best chance of a Paralympic medal in Rio.
— TMG Digital