Sport for people with disabilities as factor in reshaping the post-apartheid South African sporting society

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Peer-Reviewed Research


Limited research has been done on the history and impact of sport for people with disabilities in South Africa, yet disabled athletes like Oscar Pistorius, Natalie du Toit, Ernst van Dyk, Hilton Langenhoven, Zanele Situ, Lucas Sithole and many others have become internationally renowned sporting icons. They have contributed to making disability sport trendy and contributed to uniting a sports mad society and helping it enjoy, understand and appreciate disability sport on par with other sporting codes. Since 1994, disability sport has grown faster than many of the able-bodied sporting codes in South Africa and, in some cases, even surpassing it in popularity. The South African Minster of Sport and Recreation, Fikile Mbalula’s decision to amend policy and to give Olympic and Paralympic medalists the same compensation after the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games clearly illustrates the rise to prominence of disability sport in this country. Statistics have shown that more television viewers supported South African Paralympic events than during the Olympic Games itself. During the apartheid era, disability sport had to endure the same abuse and social problems as other, able-bodied sporting codes in South Africa. However, after 1994 it seems that disability sport and disability athletes adapted to the fast changing sporting issues within the democratisation of both politics and sport in South Africa with more ease.