Road to Rio starts at Nedbank Champs in Pretoria

With the London Paralympics fading as a wonderful memory, the 2013 Nedbank National Championships for the Physically Disabled, presented by South African Sports Association for Physically Disabled (SASAPD), was the starting point for the next group of athletes hoping to achieve greatness in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. The Championships, which will took place in Pretoria from March 24 to 27 at the University of Pretoria, was the first chance that Rio hopefuls will had to make an impression and to focus their attention on the goal of being selected for the Rio Paralympics. Team South Africa certainly inspired with their performance in London, picking up 29 medals to finish in 18th spot overall, but the challenge now is to prepare athletes that can do even better when the Games arrive in Rio in 2016.

“The Nedbank Championships have served as the perfect springboard for a number of Paralympic medallists,” SASAPD president Isaac Shadung explained. “For that reason we are happy that the 2013 Nedbank Championships provided a new beginning, a new chance for new faces to impress us. “London was a glorious end to a four year cycle, and this year has presented us with a new start. Those athletes who took part have taken their first steps towards greatness. “Likewise those who excelled into medal positions in London, or who just missed out on medalling, have started their quest to better their performances in Rio. “The Nedbank Championships is an ideal place to find the stars of tomorrow. There is no doubt that our medalists in Rio will come from those who perform well in Pretoria.

The Road to Rio starts here,” says Isaac. The Nedbank Championships featured some of the biggest names in Paralympics in South Africa, including the likes of Ilse Hayes, Fanie van der Merwe, Hilton Langenhoven, Kevin Paul, Shireen Shapiro, Emily Gray, Jonathan Ntutu and Dyan Buis. Nedbank has been a long-term sponsor of sport for athletes with disabilities in South Africa and has already taken steps to ensure the healthy foundation is extended even broader to create more heroes. “Since 1992 the Nedbank Championships have been the proving ground for South Africa’s Paralympic stars. In the past one or two individuals have perhaps dominated our sporting landscape in disabled sport and it is our challenge, together with SASAPD to grow the talent pool,” Nedbank’s head of Sponsorship, Andy Scott explains.

“As we are at the start of a new cycle, we need to ensure that all facets of disabled sport across the board receive the right support, so that we have champions in all disciplines who have the means and support to rise to the top,” says Andy.

Bowls - come and join in the fun

Bowls, sometimes known as lawn bowls (rolbal in Afrikaans) is a sport played on a flat green, in which the objective is to roll biased balls so that they stop close to a smaller ball called a "jack".

Lawn bowls frequently gets a lot of bad press. It is often disparagingly referred to as old man’s marbles, because a lot of the people who play the game are no longer in their youth. But there-in lies part of the appeal of bowls – anyone can play it, and it is perfect for anyone with a mobility impairment.

It is also a game of great skill and people need to develop rhythm, muscle memory and have a repertoire of different deliveries to play the game well. But, at the same time it is one sport where people of differing abilities, ages, genders and experience can all play together.

People with a whole range of mobility impairment can enjoy this fascinating and addictive sport provided they have modified the medical equipment they rely on for mobility if that equipment would potentially have an effect on surface of the green. Wheelchair users need to have inflatable front wheels or single wheel, and rear wheels of a certain width so they do not damage the surface of the green. People using crutches for support need to have padded wide plates attached to the base of the crutch for the same purpose.

Physically Disabled Bowlers South Africa (PDBSA) caters for paraplegics, amputees, cerebral palsy, hemiplegics etc. Even some quadriplegics with the ability to grip a bowl are still able play the game and to fashion highly effective deliveries. Bowlers with mobility impairments are assessed by qualified occupational therapists to evaluate their balance, grip and strength. They are put into different categories so that people of equivalent physical ability are bowling against each other.

Sports such as wheelchair basketball, wheelchair tennis and wheelchair athletics, require independent competition, whereas a bowler in a wheelchair can still play with able-bodied bowlers without any changes to the rules and running of the game. The ‘bread and butter’ bowls for a physically disabled bowler will be with their local club and most of their play will be with able bodied bowlers. However, every year a week is set aside to host the Disability Bowls National Championships. These championships for both PDBSA and National Association of Blind Bowlers (NABB) are an annual gathering of bowlers with disabilities and are used to help select players to represent South Africa in international sporting events. This year they are being held in Bloemfontein between the 21st and 28th of April at Orangia, Oud Studente and Bloemfontein Bowling Clubs. Any RI readers in the Bloemfontein area who might be interested are encouraged to come along. 

Look out for more feedback in future editions of Rolling Inspiration on the outcome of the National Championships and for more information about the wonderful sport of bowls.

SASCOC road show off to successful start in Free State

The South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) recently staged the first of nine innovative road shows in Bloemfontein. The meeting is part of SASCOC’s plan to engage all of the country’s provinces in a bid to come up with ideas and programmes to improve the country’s sporting structures and performances going forward. This follows an extremely successful performance by Team South Africa at last year's Olympics and Paralympics in London, where the country returned with six medals from the Olympics and 29 medals from the Paralympics. The Free State Sports Confederation hosted the meeting and many relevant federations attended to provide input and inspiration. Crucial to the programme was the sharing of SASCOC’s plans and strategies whilst outlining the roles and responsibilities of their key partners. These partners will help SASCOC to successfully deliver programmes and projects going forward to the 2016 Olympics, Paralympics and beyond. At the inaugural roadshow the MEC of the Free State Sports Department, Dan Kgothule, pledged R2 million to the cause and SASCOC President Gideon Sam challenged the other provinces to equal, and hopefully, improve on that. “SASCOC has explained to the provincial leadership why they have decided to embark on these road shows. It is to find synergy between SASCOC’s work and what the provinces are trying to achieve.

“We explained that the Road to Rio campaign of preparation has already started in earnest and we need help from all provinces to gain maximum benefit. There will be national camps, and international camps to help our athletes. It's our great wish that we'll get the same support or better than this exceptional pledge from MEC Kgothule,” said Sam.

Nail-biting finish for Outeniqua Wheelchair Race

A fiercely-contested first place finish, gutsy attempts to break record times, fervent defence of hard-won titles and passionate resolve to improve personal best results. All of this and huge doses of gritty determination characterised the top athletes at the 11th Outeniqua Wheelchair Race (OCC).

In a very close finish, the hand cycle division in the men’s open paraplegic 42.2km marathon was won by Ernst van Dyk (Maties Helderberg Club), in a time of 1:09:33. Coming second, with the same officially-recorded time but a mere half-wheel diameter behind the winner was Andries Scheepers (Rustenburg Multi Club). Only one second behind the leaders was third-placed Stuart McCreadie (Maties Helderberg Club).

This is the eleventh time that Van Dyk has entered the OCC race, and his second consecutive win in the handcycle division, with an average race speed of 36.4 kilometres per hour.

In a winning time of 01:58:39, Hilary Lewis once again won the Women’s Handcycle Paraplegic marathon, improving her 2012 time by nearly three minutes.

Presented by sponsors ACSA George Airport, the 11th anniversary OCC race attracted more than 950 entrants, who descended on the normally quiet Southern Cape city of George. Competitors from six different countries participated in the race.

Prize money of R244 000 was split over 44 categories in three distances - a 42.2 km full marathon (with a R10 000 first prize), a 21.1 km half-marathon for athletes using racing wheelchairs or hand cycles, and a 10 km distance, which also allowed basketball chairs and ordinary wheelchairs.

The OCC Wheelchair Race is South Africa’s only international wheelchair road racing sporting event for persons with disabilities, and is recognised as an official Championship event by the South African Sports Association for the Physically Disabled (SASAPD).

Actor Heino Schmitt (who plays the character Altus in 7de Laan) had spectators clamouring for autographs as he pushed Jarobeam Meyer Optima from the Special Day Care centre in George in the 5km fun event.

Juniors make SA proud

The Cruyff Foundation Junior Masters took place in Tarbes, France, from 24 – 27 January.

Only the world’s top 12 juniors players – eight boys and four girls – were invited to play in this premier event with SA contributing three of the world’s top 12 players -Mariska Venter, Gift Lekhanyane, Thato Tsomole and coach Rene Plant.

The Girls Singles draw was made up of a field of the top four junior girls in the world including South Africa’s Mariska Venter. Mariska was first up against 16 year old Diede de Groot from the Netherlands where she was defeated 6-2, 6-4. Mariska recovered well, and posted the first win for the South African delegation beating Polina Shakirova of Russia 2-6, 6-4, 6-2.

Armed with one win and one loss, Mariska Venter faced two-time champion Angelica Bernal from Colombia. It was not only her pride at stake, but both were coming to the match with a win and a loss – it was the ultimate decider. Both players brought their A game to the court, but experience allowed the defending champion Bernal to secure a 6-3, 6-3 victory over SA’s talented Mariska Venter.

Alfie Hewett (GBR) and Diede de Groot (NED) wheeled away with the prestigious titles after defeating Carlos Anker (NED) 6-0, 6-1 and Angelica Bernal (COL) 6-0, 6-2 in the finals.

“Although we did not play for any of the titles, or come way with either trophy, it was a proud achievement for WTSA to have one quarter of the world’s top juniors in our camp. We believe we have the talent, have the players, and have the programmes. I am sure we will dominate this and other junior events in due course. Congratulations to our juniors, you did us proud,” said Karen Losch, Manager of Wheelchair Tennis SA.
Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) is the official sponsor of Wheelchair Tennis South Africa. It is through their generous sponsorship that we can develop our players and allow them to travel to events of this calibre.

A key year for Wheelchair Rugby In South Africa

2013 sees the return of the best Zonal tournament ? the IWRF 2013 Asia-Oceania Championship for wheelchair rugby. It was 8 years since South Africa last had the privilege of hosting this prestigious tournament. Early in 2012 it was confirmed that we had won the bid to host this tournament once again. The championships take place every two years between national teams of the continents. The Asia-Oceania Zone, currently has six countries active in the zone: Australia, China, Japan, Korea, New Zealand and South Africa. This tournament is also the qualifying tournament for IWRF 2014 World Championships. Currently more than forty countries have, or are developing wheelchair rugby programmes. 26 of these countries are fully active and are divided into three regions – the Americas (6 countries), Europe (14 countries) and Asia-Oceania (6 countries). This phenomenal growth is due in no small part to Olympic recognition. Being placed on such a major world stage, the game was introduced to a wider public than might otherwise have been the case and has attracted an increased following as a result. In London 2012, for example, wheelchair rugby was played in front of capacity crowds in excess of 10 000 people all of whom went away thrilled by the game. SA WCR (South Africa Wheelchair Rugby) is committed to developing the game and believes their strong regional competitions will ensure the growth of wheelchair rugby in the country. The purpose of tournament is to qualify for the IWRF 2014 World Championships, to develop wheelchair rugby in South Africa and introduce the sport to other African countries, and to improve SA WCR’s world ranking. Training camps will be held every month preceding the tournament. A national team, to be ratified by SA Rugby, the team will be announced prior to the tournament. These high-intensity pre-championship training camps will challenge and provide athletes with the tools to succeed in the game of wheelchair rugby. Camps promote increased speed and strength as well as to have the endurance to play rugby games back-to-back without being taken off the court. It further fine tunes game and tactical plans. SA WCR would like to encourage any potential sponsors to partner with them in making the IWRF 2013 Asia-Oceania Championship for wheelchair rugby an event to be remembered by all for many years to come. Currently our part funders and sponsors are SAB as well as Tshwane Government. Event:

IWRF 2013 Asia-Oceania Championship for wheelchair rugby. Venue:
University of Pretoria, LC de Villiers Sport Grounds, Rembrandt Hall Date of Tournament:

18th to 24th November 2013 Possible teams competing and their respective world rankings:

Australia – No.1
Japan – No.4
New Zealand – No.9
Korea – No.17
South Africa – No.25 Please visit the following pages to follow news & events leading up to this tournament:

Wheelchair Basketball Calender Competitions Dates:

  • IWBF U23 World Qualifiers 29 March – 5 April Mandeville
  • Provincial Champions Leagues 3 Feb - 14 April Provinces
  • SA National 3 on 3 Action Ball 6 & 7 April Provinces
  • Champions Cup 1 – 5 May Mandeville
  • SSWBS Knock-out Cup 18 – 25 May Mandeville
  • SSWBS Registration 26 May Mandeville
  • Sisal 3-Nation Tour 27 May – 22 June Mandeville
  • SuperSport Series 15 June – 25 August Provinces
  • Vodacom U23 & U25 Championships 22 – 26 June Pretoria
  • SA National Women’s Championship 8 – 11 August Pretoria
  • French All-starts Tournament 7 – 19 August Mandeville
  • SuperSport Finals 17 September Mandeville
  • Vodacom National Championships 19 – 24 September Durban
  • Vodacom Cup 5 October Mandeville
  • SuperSport Relegation games 6 October Mandeville
  • IWBF World Cup Qualifiers 22 – 31 October Egypt –TBC
  • Provincial 3 on 3 Action Ball 1- 12 November Provinces
  • National 3 on 3 Action Ball 16 November TBC
  • U18 schools tournament 7 – 11 December TBC