Team SA bags 17 medals as Paralympic Games conclude

Ernst van Dyk, who won gold last Thursday, concluded the Paralympics for Team SA on Sunday.

Athletes watch a fireworks display during the closing ceremony of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games at the Maracana stadium. Picture: AFP.

CAPE TOWN - The 2016 Paralympic Games came to a close last night with Team South Africa finishing 22nd on the overall medals table with 17 medals.

That included seven gold, six silver and four bronze medals.

There was a special tribute paid to the Iranian cyclist Bahman Golbarnezhad at the closing ceremony last night, who died after his crash during the men's road race.

Ernst van Dyk, who won gold last Thursday, concluded the Paralympics for Team SA in the wheelchair marathon with sixth place. The athlete did not attend the ceremony last night, saying he was "too sore and tired".

Van Dyk shared a post to social media, describing Sunday's race as "brutal".

"A 12.30 start at the hottest time of the day. Again things did not go as planned. I found myself in the group racing for bronze.

"I started my sprint over from last position in the group. I passed a few, but I was never going to pass them all so I ended in sixth place. Not bad at all given the quality of the field."

Gave my best today but only good enough for 6th. Congrats to @MarcelEricHug and @kurtfearnley for a massive effort. Berlin next!

With the Paralympics done and dusted, he hopes to compete in four other marathons before taking a break, including the Berlin Marathon next weekend.

"For now, it's mission accomplished. I'm going home with a gold medal, one of seven that this amazing team won."

He says his Paralympic career is "probably over" but only time will tell.

"If I'm still a contender in the marathon for Tokyo 2020, I will take to the starting line. But that is a long way from now, time will tell."

Team SA arrive back in the country tomorrow morning, with a big turnout expected in Johannesburg to greet them, including Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula.