Cover Story - Nitro Circus Wows South African Audiences
Nitro Circus Live, the adrenalin- charged, action-sports show recently performed in front of a 35 000 spectators, a sell out performance at FNB Stadium in Soweto.
Following two sell-out shows in Cape Town and Durban, the Soweto show smashed through the previous Nitro Circus Live record number of 28 000 tickets sold at the Arnhem, Netherlands show in 2012.
The Nitro Circus consisting of a 40 strong elite cast of the world’s best action-sports athletes brought the stadium down, with death-defying stunts in freestyle motocross (FMX), BMX, skate and a host of crazy contraptions that no sane person would ever consider riding, all launched with precision and skill, from the famous 50-foot high Nitro Gigant-A-Ramp.
Fans were treated to a range of stunts using everything from kids’ trikes, snow skis, tandem bikes and razor scooters, through to shopping trolleys, and a Barbie car.
One of the highlights of the show, included wheelchair athlete. Aaron ‘Wheelz’ Fotheringham, landing a perfect front flip. This was the first time an act of this nature was performed on the African continent.
‘Wheelz’ is a 22 year-old, wheelchair moto-cross athlete from Las Vegas, Nevada. Aaron was born with spina bifida, a birth defect of the spinal cord, which resulted in him having no use of his legs.
Aaron started riding at skate parks at the age of eight when his older brother, Brian said he should drop down a quarter pipe. He had been going to the park with Brian and their dad for weeks, but Aaron would just watch from behind the fence. The first time was scary, and he fell, but he was never one to give up just because it wasn’t easy. So, he tried again. From then on he was hooked.
He has won a few BMX free style competitions, including the 2005 Vegas AmJam BMX finals, but for Aaron the prizes are secondary to the joy of riding and hanging out with friends at the skate parks.
Over the last eight years, he has challenged himself to try progressively difficult tricks; carving, grinding, power-sliding, hand planting, and spinning are just a few items on his list of accomplishments. In 2005, he perfected a mid air 180-degree turn. Then in 2006, he landed the first wheelchair back flip. Four years later, he landed the first ever double back flip. Since then, he has gone on to perform it live while touring with Nitro Circus. In February 2011, he landed his first front flip in New Zealand, and in August 2012, he shocked Brazilians by jumping and successfully landing a 50-ft gap off of the Mega Ramp in his chair.
After posting that “first ever back flip” on the Internet, his life changed. He enjoys showing young kids with disabilities that a wheelchair can be a toy, not a restriction.
He loves helping younger children learn how to handle their wheelchairs in new and different ways and teaching them a trick or two.
Someday he hopes to design “the most wicked” wheelchair in the world.
Aaron has a passion for his work and he wants to change the world’s perception of people in wheelchairs and help everyone see their own challenges in a new way. His appeal is universal. You certainly do not have to be disabled to be inspired by what he is able to do.