London 2012

At the time of writing, there are 380days to the start of the 2012 Paralympic Games in London which start 29 August and finish 9 September 2012.

July was a busy month with SASAPDathletes participating in both Germany and England accompanied by the following coaching staff: Karin Le Roux, Jacques Peche, Kobus van Zyl, Johan van Greunen and Suzanne Ferreira.

Our athletes produced successful results at the German National Championships in Singen as part of their preparations for London 2012. Chenelle van Zyl (T35) achieved a personal best and African record in the shotputt of 8,51m and a throw of 22,87m in the discus. Ilse Hayes won the 100m(T13/44/46) in 12,47s, achieving the qualifying standard for 2012 and only 0,02seconds off her personal best. She also took 2nd place in the LongJump (F12/13/46) with a jump of 5,42m. Jonathan Ntutu ran a personal best of 10,97 seconds in the 100m (T13) to take 1st place. Arno Fourie placed 1st in the 100m (T44) in 11.37s. Fanie van der Merwe came home 1st in the 100m (T37) in 11,95s and met the qualifying standard for both 100m and 200m. Marius Stander finished 2nd in the 200m(T38) in 24,91s and Derrick Schutte achieved a personal best of 40,17m in the javelin. The bulk of the team then travelled to England for the BWAA Championships at Stoke Mandeville – the birthplace of the Paralympic movement.

Our swimmers compete at the Para PanPacific Championships in Edmonton, Canada this August, the first time they have competed in Canada. Where appropriate the swimmers will be using the Championships as part of their training for London 2012.

Leading the way will be BeijingParalympic gold medallists Charl Bouwer, Kevin Paul and Shireen Sapiro. They will be accompanied by Paralympians Tadgh Slattery and Achmat Hassiem. Also making the trip will be Paralympian, SASAPD Torch Bearer and Nedbank Brand Ambassador Emily Gray; Sarah Shannon, Beth Nothling, and Hendri Herbst.

Multiple award winner, gold medallistat the Global Games and veteran of two Paralympics, Craig Groenewald, will also be competing as will Challis Wright, Renette Bloem, Marike Naude and Charl Parkin.

Spare a thought for our swimmers.Indoor training is a luxury - just ask SASAPD Torch Bearer Emily Gray. She hashad to chip the ice off the starting blocks on more than one occasion!

Disability at the Olympics

Just one day after Nelson Mandela's birthday a lean and muscular Oscar Pistorius moved one step closer to competingin the London 2012 Olympics. He achieved an Olympic (B) qualifying time for the400m in Lignano with a personal best of 45.07s, 0.18s within the qualifying time of 45.25 seconds.

Controversy erupted in January 2008 when Oscar was ruled ineligible to compete at the Beijing Olympics saying that his Cheetah Blades gave him an unfair advantage. In May of the same year the ruling was reversed but it left little time for Oscar to get race fit and qualify.

Surprisingly, should he get aplace, Oscar will not be the first runner with a disability to compete at aSummer Olympic Games, but he may be the first male!! The sight impaired runner, Ms Marla Runyan, placed eighth in the 1,500m for USA at the 2000 Sydney Games and in 2008 our very own Natalie du Toit became the first amputee to compete in Olympic swimming.

Ms Neroli Fairhall, New Zealand,was the first paraplegic to ever compete at the Olympics (Archery) at LosAngeles in 1984. She was 39 years old at the time.

VodacomBlue Bulls pave the way for supporters with disabilities

With the loyalty and support of their fans always at the forefront of new endeavours, the Blue Bulls Company (Pty) Ltd, together with partners Vodacom,the Chris Burger and Petro Jackson players’ fund and The Blue Bulls Wheelchair association, have launched facilities for people with disabilities at LoftusVersfeld.

Few experiences can match that of Loftus Versfeld which is why the Blue BullsCompany have launched a host of facilities for persons with disabilities, opening the gates for those fans that have previously not been able to attend matches. CEO Barend Van Graan comments, "laying rugby wouldn't be much fun if it weren't for the passion and cheer of each and every supporter which is why appreciating our fans tops our priority list. With this in mind, we are proud to launch our new prime parking spaces for people with disabilities and reserve prime position and easy to access seating for each game. This is one of the many steps in ensuring that the thrill of a live match is not limited to a special few."

Included in the new facilities are 20 wheelchair designated parking bays in the North East corner of the Northern parking area, which provide easy access to the stadium via Gate 2 and the North Pavilion via the lift. In addition there are23 tickets in Blocks T and U in the lower lever of the North Stand. The tickets range between R50 and R80 per seat with one complimentary companion ticket perpurchase. Should you be looking for a superior experience, suite N219 is now available for supporters with disabilities at R150 per ticket which againincludes complimentary access for a companion.

Speaking on behalf of QASA, National Director Ari Seirlis confirmed his delight at theUnion's initiative, "We are very proud to be associated with The Blue Bulls and Loftus, in the provision of this suite facility, for people with mobility impairments. This will give opportunities to people who would not normally venture into an unknown environment to participate in spectating sport, attending conferences, concerts and activities at Loftus. This facility will provide an affordable, safe and comfortable environment for people to enjoy the activities at Loftus. The forward thinking and commitment of the BlueBulls Company (Pty) Ltd, the Chris Burger Petro Jackson Player's Fund and QASA, is going to benefit many people with mobility impairments, who will enjoy a day or an afternoon at Loftus."

Morne Du Plessis, Chairman of the Players Fund, is delighted that The Chris BurgerPetro Jackson Players' Fund is part of this joint venture, "By providing people with disabilities, who are also rugby enthusiasts, the opportunity to support their local and national teams on match day at Loftus Versfeld, in the comfort of a wheelchair friendly and accessible rugbysuite, is a small contribution that the Fund is pleased to make toward the integration of disabled South African's into society."

Portia Maurice, Vodacom's Chief Officer: Corporate Affairs agrees. "For most us watching a rugby match is as easy as walking to our seats but, for people with disabilities, contending with the crowds can be a harrowing experience. The new disability suite will not only give rugby fans with disabilities easy access toall necessary amenities but also ensure that they can watch the game in comfort. Together with the Blue Bulls we are proud to have helped connect more people through the power of sport."