The new official mascot for the South African Olympic team, that will be participating in this year’s Olympic and Paralymic games in London, has been unveiled. He is an African rhino, loves to dance and his name is Chukuru.
Chukuru was chosen from a shortlist of finalists including Ebee the bee, Zanzi the African wild dog and Katzi the Serval. In the list, Chukuru was described as the mascot that “will also raise global awareness about rhino poaching in South Africa.” It’s no surprise then, in light of recent events, that he was selected.
Chukuru made his debut on Wednesday in Newtown, Johannesburg, at the launch of the team’s new kit. The new green and yellow kit was modelled by athletes including swimmers Natalie du Toit and Cameron van der Burgh, track runner Oscar Pistorius, long jumper Kgotso Mokoena, football player Amanda Dlamini and wheelchair basketballer Marius Papenfus.
“It’s vitally important that our athletes feel not only comfortable and at home in their kit but also extremely proud and honoured whenever they wear it, be it in competition or out of competition,” says SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) CEO, Tubby Reddy. “The mere pride and feel-good factor of the wearing of the national kit should serve to up their performance by a few levels.”
But, it was just one of a dozen items designed for Team SA by Chinese manufacturing company Erke, including casual shirts, polo shirts, three-quarter pants, tracksuits, official takkies and rain gear for those drizzly London skies.
And here’s hoping they work, because Erke’s contract with the team extends to the 2016 Games.
And, while (Sascoc) president Gideon Sam conceded that when it came to fashion you can’t please everybody, he hoped the uniform would help the team “focus on what they’re there for – giving their all for their country and winning medals”.
Sam also said that “I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, our athletes are central to everything we do. Without them there would be nothing so it’s only obvious that we want them to love what they’ll be wearing.”
The 2012 London Olympic Games kicks off with the opening ceremony on the 27th July, followed by the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Games on the 29th August.
Source: The South African