A group of 14 South Africans with a variety of disabilities entered and completed the recent 42 kilometre New York Marathon. Behind the scenes was the Achilles Track Club.
An incredible initiative behind the scenes at the New York Marathon, made it possible for a total of 14 South African athletes with a wide range of different disabilities to take part in the event and each one of them completed the course!
The Achilles Track Club is a global organisation with the simple but committed mission of encouraging people with all kinds of disabilities to participate in running events with the general public. It was founded in 1983 in New York and now has more than 100 Chapters worldwide. The South African chapter was formed in 1992 by a group called the Jardine Joggers, named after Ian Jardine who was the first blind runner to compete in the Comrades Marathon.
Denis Tabakin, who heads the local Achilles movement and himself successfully took part in the 2005 NY event, says the Jardine Joggers used to focus exclusively on getting people with disabilities to train and run the Comrades. Becoming Achilles gave the members much wider horizons. "We now focus on all road races and encompass all disabilities. The New York Marathon is seen as the Blue Ribbon of marathons each year and more than 400 disabled runners from all over the world are invited to participate."
An incredible measurement of the success of Achilles is that it has managed to send around 120 disabled runners to the event from South Africa, and every one of them has completed the race! Denis says running is an ideal sport for many reasons. It is inexpensive, it breaks down barriers between disabled and mainstream (the temporary abled he calls them) participants, and enhances health. People who couldn't negotiate the distance between two light poles on their home turf, wind up competing in marathons. It is the one sport where every person can compete in the same environment.
Apart from playing a significant motivational role, Achilles also provides a range of facilities to support its members on a project such as the NY event. Whenever possible we have our team members checked out by the top medical people in each speciality to see if they need any assistance. We have also had people provide restoration for prosthetics and sometimes new items; we've received wheelchair donations, and other equipment. "We have a philosophy which says that if a runner wants to do it, and is prepared to train for it, we will help them."
He says the NY Marathon is much more than just an event; often it becomes a transformational experience. "We have had deaf runners whose hearing has been restored, and have witnessed many changes in some of our runners' lifestyles once they've completed the NYM." (Contact: Denis Tabakin on 082 456-1773 or firstname.lastname@example.org)
Handcycling is the fastest growing sport for disabled athletes world-wide and with the introduction of an official division for handcycling in the Argus Cycle Tour, Handcycling SA is busy putting together an event in Paarl the week before the Argus to promote the sport in South Africa and attract international participants.
It’s always hard for international participants to travel to South Africa for just one race but Handcycling SA is hoping that byoffering a little more they can get the numbers and the level of competition up.
The Paarl Rock International Hand Cycle Challenge is an event for hand cyclists of any level or fitness. It takes place one week before the Argus Cycle tour and it gives competitors the opportunity to test their fitness and speed against some of the best athletes the world has to offer in a wide range of events. As part of the Paarl Rock International Hand Cycle Challenge a week of good secure training will be covered to give the international cyclists more competitions to participate in before the Argus event. The Paarl Rock International Handcycling Committee will provide transport to and from the airport and provide information on its website regarding suitable and discounted rates for accommodation and the committee is organising a handcycling clinic under the guidance of Ernst van Dyk for the development of the sport in South Africa during this week. The PRHCC are busy marketing its website to both SA and International athletes with the hope that it becomes a point of information for all hand cyclists in S.A. and International athletes. For more information on the Paarl Rock International Hand Cycle Challenge visit www.handcycling.co.za.
Minister of Labour, Membathisi Mdladlana, showed his support for QASA by wearing the Stand Tall wristband during the Services SETA conference held at the International Conference Centre in October.
In line with its vision as a national company, CE Mobility has opened a branch in Cape Road, Port Elizabeth.
The new store will stock the company’s range of products which include manual and powered wheelchairs, scooters, walking frames and mobility equipment and aids for bathing and personal care. CE Mobility manufactures a range of South African wheelchairs, like the CE cruiser and rigid frame JAG wheelchair that meet with international standards for the unique South African market. It will also supply imported mobility equipment such as Quickie Wheelchairs and JAY cushions to clients who require these. The store will be managed by Adrian Hubbard (himself a paraplegic and wheelchair user) who brings with him over 10 years of experience with wheelchair and mobility product provision. Clare Hubbard, an Occupational Therapist, works part-time and has many years of clinical experience with both adult and paediatric patients. The new branch offers comprehensive wheelchair seating assessment and advice in the client’s home, rehabilitation unit, school or nursing home, or at the showroom.
CE Mobility works with orthotists, physiotherapists and other professionals to find the optimal wheelchair seating for disabled clients. Through the expertise of technician Patrick Siyo, the store will offer a comprehensive service including repairs, servicing and special modifications. The showroom is open 5 days a week and is open to the public and professionals, so visit them at 80 Cape Rd, Mill Park, PE to meet the team and to view the range of products.
While he National Council for Persons with Physical Disabilities in South Africa supported National Transport Minister Jeff Radebe’s call for “Car Free Day” on 20 October 2005, the vast majority of persons with disabilities, especially those with mobility impairments and making use of assistive devices could not share in this government initiative.
The NCPPDSA said its members are amongst the poorest of the poor and cannot afford private adapted means of transport and are reliant on NGO’s and other benefactors to provide the basic need of daily transport.
The NCPPDSA stated, “Public Transport in our country remains predominantly inaccessible for those travelling in wheelchairs, those walking with difficulty as well as the elderly, infirm and even mothers using pushcarts. “We trust that this initiative shall highlight the inadequacies of our public transport infrastructure and that Government shall recognise the need to fast-track the provision for accessible public transport in planned initiatives such as the Taxi Recapitalisation Scheme, Rapid Rail Links and bus transportation. “This is particularly imperative in view of the Soccer World Cup in 2010 and for South Africa to provide facilities that are on par with the principles of Universal Access and Design. “Persons with Disability wish to claim their rightful constructive stake in civil society and benefit from the equality principles enshrined in our Constitution, but for this we need public transport accessible to all.” r
The South African wheelchair basketball team are through to the semi-finals in their Afro-Arab Zone Qualifier for next year’s World Cup in Holland. The South Africans continued their domination of the round robin phase of the qualifier and booked their place in the playoffs with a 96-23 victory over Kenya at the Vodacom Mandeville Indoor Centre.
South Africa’s opponents in Thursday’s semi-final will be the loser of Wednesday’s match between Cameroon and Kenya. Only the top team will qualify for next year’s World Cup.
The South African Sports Association For Physically Disabled (SASAPD) has moved premises. Should you wish to contact SASAPD please use the following details:
P.O. Box 751979,
Rand Refinery Estate,
Refinery Road, Germiston,
011 873 9191
086 616 0694
Iris Cunningham – General Manager
Nosipho Mollo – Administrator
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Quad Squad day will take place on 17 March 2006 and during the fund-raising month; the public will be able to contribute to this worthy cause by buying a tag with a hand from Pick ‘n Pay for R10. The concept for next years campaign is “Give a hand to the QuadPara Association of South Africa” hence buying a tag with a hand. The tag can be either be worn as a necklace, bracelet or used as a key ring.