Emily Gray - A shining example  

The cover of Rolling Insiration March/April 2010 was extremely popular. It was taken at last year's Nedbank Champs in PE and included four of South Africa's young, up and coming swimmers: Emily Gray, Adri Visser, Achmat Sharkboy  Hassiem and Shireen Sapiro.

Imagine our joy at the opening ceremony of the 2011Nedbank National Championships for the Physically Disabled when Emily joined the celebrities on stage and was named SASAPD's Torch Bearer and Nedbank Brand Ambassador for the next 12 months. SASAPD president, Isaac Shadung: "It is with pride and pleasure I announce the SASAPD Torch Bearer and Nedbank Brand Ambassador for the coming 12 months will be Emily Gray. As a swimmer Emily has represented South Africa at World Championships and the Beijing Paralympics. We believe Emily has the potential become a role model of the highest order."

It was no surprise to people who have met Emily. She tackles life with quiet determination and dedication - whether it is international swimming, succeeding at university or fighting cancer. When Emily was just eleven years old she was diagnosed with osteosarcoma (cancer of the femur) and, when chemotherapy failed, the plucky young girl had to cope with the amputation of her left leg at the hip.

Emily comes from a close-knit family and is the youngest of Bob and Lesley Gray's four daughters. With her family by her side, Emily joined swimming legends Natalie du Toit and Tadhg Slattery at the Mandeville Sports Club pool and, with the support of excellent coaches, was soon selected for Team SA breaking the South African records for 100m and 50m backstroke twice in 2006. As part of Team SA Emily has represented her country in England, Brazil, Holland, Australia, Taiwan, participated in the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games and finished 4th in the 400m freestyle at the 2010 IPC World Champs in Eindhoven, Holland. Her next goal is return from the 2012 London Paralympic Games with a medal or two!

Emily was awarded her Pretoria University Colours in 2010 where she is studying for a degree in Sports Science. She has sensibly decided to conclude the degree with business studies as she plans to follow acommercial path within sport. She is a shining example of her belief that "whatever you do, do to the best of your potential and you will never bedisappointed with yourself."

New Course Record at OCC

A record 870 competitors descended on George for SouthAfrica's only international wheelchair road racing event, the Outeniqua Wheelchair Challenge (OCC), presented by Vodacom and ACSA (George), in February.

Stuart McCreadie (Maties Helderberg Club) set a new course record of 1:10:02 for Men's Open Paraplegic Hand Cycle - 42.2km. In the Ladies Open T53/54, Nikki Emerson of England won for the second year running. Mark Rohan of Ireland took first in Men's Open Quadriplegic - 42.2km and South Africa's Paralympic hero, Ernst van Dyk, won the 42.2km Open T53/54 in his racing wheelchair. "This is my last race with the racer. I will participate next year in the hand cycle division," he said.

The fun run’s youngest competitor was 2 ½ year-old Veronique Pietersen and the oldest was 90 year-old Athol Brown.

Harties Fun

The annual Walk and Wheelathon held at Hartbeespoort Dam in February was a resounding success. Celebrities such as Bobby van Jaarsveld of the movie Liefling and Erik Holm and Paul du Toit of Binnelanders added to the excitement. The event, presented by Sector 1 Crime Forum, U-Careand Chameleon Village, started on time at 07h00 and by 09h00 most participants were through the tunnel that goes over the Dam and on the home stretch to Chameleon Village.

Traffic police were on hand to direct traffic and ensure safe passage for participants to the Village where breakfast was served and a range of entertainment and games took place.

The spirit at the event, with the various houses cheering each other on, was infectious. The funds raised will be distributed amongst local homes for quadriplegics.