The third annual Adapted Surfing Day was held at Big Bay in Cape Town on the 8th of December 2013. The event was hosted by Extreme Abilities and Surfing South Africa, and was funded by the Department of Sports and Recreation. The event gave people with various disabilities an opportunity to experience the thrill of surfing.

Adapted surfing has become an increasingly popular pastime amongst some of the more adventurous members of the South African disabled community. What started as small group of 13 participants and 20 volunteers in 2011, has grown to more than 70 adapted surfers and 80 volunteers, with 200 people attending the event.

Bulelwa Madlongwana, a member of the Siyaphakama Development for the Disabled Association, attended the event for the first time and stated that her group had a hard time convincing people to participate. However, after so many of them had great experiences, they now have to choose who can come along, as their enthusiasm and interest in adapted surfing has become overwhelming. Bulelwa also said: “The event has great significance, because most people with disabilities sit around watching bags while other able bodied people swim. Now, they believe that they can also participate “.

Another member of the Siyaphakama group, Pumeza Phillips, who is visually impaired, emerged from the water with a smile on her face. She went on to say that she would do it again and that she saw the event as an opportunity to socialize with other disabled people since she is newly disabled. “It was fantastic!”

Dries Millard, the chairperson of Extreme Abilities, stated that the aim of the event was to show people with disabilities that there are many things that they are able to do, as well as providing them with motivation to tackle other challenges in life. “We give uplifting experiences,” he added. Aside from these benefits, adapted surfing is also related to other forms of water therapy, which is used in rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injuries and amputations, allowing people with disabilities the freedom to move around without the use of assistive devices like wheelchairs and crutches.

Extreme Abilities and their partners are planning to host six events in 2014 and aim to bring adapted surfing to other parts of the country in the near future.

Caption: Surf’s up for Pumeza Phillips and Bulelwa Madlongwana. 

Join in the fun at bowling tournament in Durban

The Annual Disability Bowls Nationals for both blind (NABB) and physically disabled bowlers (PDBSA) takes place this year in Durban from Sunday the 4th of May to Saturday 10th of May at the Northlands (Main Host Club), Sherwood and Durban Bowling Clubs. 

Any interested spectators are encouraged to come and watch a group of wheelchair users, leg and arm amputees, persons with cerebral palsy and people with other mobility and balance disabilities compete for honours.

Tennis ace Sithole singles and doubles runner up at the Australian Open

South African Sports Star Lucas Sithole’s reached both the quads singles and doubles finals at the Australian Open Grand Slam. Although his hopes of winning his second Grand Slam in six months did not materialise, Sithole did SA proud.  Sithole was the first wheelchair tennis player from Africa to play in both the singles and doubles final of the Australian Open.

Coming into the finals Wagner and Sithole had both won two out of the three round robin matches to secure their place in the quad’s final at the first Grand Slam of 2014.

In the finals, Sithole started strong, focused and determined winning the first set comfortably. Wagner had a great start in the second set building a lead of 3-0 when Sithole realigned his concentration and nerves to level the set at 3-3. Wagner won the next two games leading 5-3 and it was Sitholes’ strong serves that got him back to 5-5 with Wagner taking the last two games to win the second set 7-5. In the 3rd set the American David Wagner had an early break and took the deciding set 6-3. The final score was 3-6,7-5, 6-3 to World No 1, David Wagner (USA) giving Wagner his third Australian Open title and the first year winning both the singles and doubles title at the Australian Open.

ACSA is the official sponsor of Wheelchair Tennis South Africa. Through this partnership, the company hopes to produce more champions like Lucas ahead of the 2016 Paralympic Games. 

The world will run for those who can’t

On May 4 one of the biggest – and most unique – running events ever staged will take place: the whole world will be the venue for the ‘Wings for Life World Run’.

Everything will be different with the ‘Wings for Life World Run’: the whole spectrum of athletes from part-time joggers and amateurs to professional athletes can take part; the race has no fixed distance and every runner around the world will start at precisely the same time. Never in sporting history has an event like this been undertaken.

Thousands of runners will set off on May 4, 2014 at 10am UTC along routes in up to 40 different locations on five continents in varying light and weather conditions. The Cape Town run will showcase the finest of South Africa’s iconic Winelands. When the race starts at 12pm on 4 May, participants will be setting off from Boschendal Wine Estate and route toward Franschhoek valley. A highlight of the route will be passing the Drakenstein Correctional Centre (formerly Victor Verster Prison) where Nelson Mandela spent the last three years of his 27-year political incarceration.

This is all in aid of Wings for Life’s mission: to find a cure for spinal cord injury.

There has never been a race like it. There is no traditional static finish line, rather competitors will run in front of an advancing ‘catcher car’, every car governed by the single, global race schedule. Half an hour after the runners start, the catcher car at every race will begin behind them at a set speed. Once a catcher car overtakes a runner their race is over. This will continue until there’s one male and one female athlete in the world left running. Only they will be crowned Wings for Life World Run Champion.

It is estimated that three million people worldwide are living with a spinal cord injury. Every year 130 000 more sustain a spinal cord injury, followed by paralysis – the main cause being traffic accidents. The advances in research are largely based on private initiatives. Being a non-profit organisation, Wings for Life relies on support and donations to help fund this research. It was set-up to ensure that a guaranteed 100% of all donations it receives are used exclusively for promising research projects.