Pretoria - To honour South African athletes who won medals in the Tokyo Olympics, Atterbury Trust together with USN’s crowdfunding project raised R1 050 000 for them.
Tatjana Schoenmaker won medals in swimming and surfing. Schoenmaker also won a silver and gold medal in the 200m and 100m breaststroke, setting the Olympic and world records in the process.
Bianca Buitendag won silver in surfing, which made its debut at the games.
Buitendag's coach Greg Emslie said said they did not go to the Olympics for the money. He said the money was a huge honour.
Emslie said hopefully the money would help in assisting other upcoming surfers since Buitendag was retiring.
“Where I come from, surfing is a big thing. Bianca and Tatjana have made it possible for the kids to dream big. They are so excited and want to reach the Olympics too in the different sports they play.”
Buitendag said that she was thankful for all the love and support South Africans have showered her with, especially the financial support, because it is something she wasn’t expecting.
“This means a lot. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank all the people who formed part of this initiative.”
Schoenmaker, who broke the world record, shared the same sentiments.
“The support has been overwhelming, weird and special at the same time. We are thankful to all the stakeholders and people who have supported us in all aspects.”
CEO of Atterbury Properties, Armond Boshoff, said they were shocked and ashamed when they heard that there was uncertainty on whether or not the medalists would be rewarded.
“We got together with USN and asked other people to come onboard. The aim was to honour people who go above and beyond for the country.”
Founder and CEO of USN, Albé Geldenhuys, said they understand that the athletes and their coaches did not win the medals to get money but they made the country proud and created so much excitement.
“The least we could do was to give them what they initially expected to get from South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee,” said Geldenhuys.
In disbursing the money, the companies gave Schoenmaker R600 000, her coach Rocco Meering R150 000, Buitendag R200 000 and Emslie R50 000.