ZENNA MULLER

Tuks’s Olympic athletes were honoured at a formal Olympics celebration hosted by the University of Pretoria together with TuksSport on 23 August. The celebration was held to pay tribute to the Tuks athletes who took part in the 2012 London Olympics, where they won three of South Africa’s six medals, making a major contribution to what was the country’s highest ever medal tally at a post-isolation Olympics. Vice-Chancellor and Principal of UP Professor Cheryl de la Rey, Deputy Minister of Sport Gert Oosthuizen and members of the SRC were all in attendance to celebrate the achievements of the 32 Tuks Olympians who participated in the London Olympics.

Professor De la Rey commended the athletes for the “years of sacrifice and dedication they’ve put in to achieve this milestone”.

“You embodied the spirit to strive for excellence,” she said. “They play a very important role as role models for future Tukkies. This is what Tuks is about, striving for excellence, being disciplined and making sure you keep focus on your goals which is to win.”

De la Rey told Perdeby, “They’ve firmly placed us on the world map. We had coverage in international media about the High Performance Centre (HPC). I think what we really do is that we commit into the development of athletes.” The athletes were each recognised individually and presented with a small gift by TuksSport Director Kobus van der Walt and Professor De la Rey. Van der Walt told Perdeby, “They have been true ambassadors for the university. They are just a group of very special athletes in the Olympic team. We’ve created a sport family here at the university and I think that’s probably the main reason why it is going well.”

James Thompson (a member of the gold medal winning rowing team) and Bridgitte Hartley (500m K1 bronze medallist) gave a word of thanks. Hartley said, “Success begins with proper timing and people in harmony. Tuks showed that they are world class and they have world class athletes and by using the right structures for athletes to participate in, they will start to develop into international performers.” She added. “I am a proud Tukkie.”

Tuks athletes Oscar Pistorius and Emily Gray will be representing South Africa at the Paralympic Games set to start on 29 August.

Photos: Eleanor Harding

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