Fanie Lombard, winner of 12 medals in four Paralympics – eight of them gold – is putting his weight behind the Outeniqua Wheelchair Challenge (OCC) which takes place in George on Valentine’s Day. After winning Gold in the Discus and Bronze for Shot putt at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics, Fanie is looking forward to pushing one of the entrants in the fun event of the OCC. ‘I know what it takes to overcome physical challenges and I am a firm believer in the multiple benefits that participating in sport brings to people of all ages, particularly those with physical disability,’ he said. ‘If you are in a wheelchair and would like a healthier, more active life, then this road race is an excellent place to start.’
Former Miss South Africa, Suzette van der Merwe, took time out from her job as an executive with the Vodacom Foundation to meet two youngsters from Adelaide Tambo School in Soweto, who always encourage their pupils to participate in the OCC. Van der Merwe said. ‘Participating in a race like this takes hard work and courage but it is clear that it is also a great deal of fun and is a wonderful confi dence booster for those who make the effort.’
Fellow Paralympic Gold Medallist, Ernst van Dyk, is up against some of the world’s best including the 2007 champ, Kurt Fearnley, when he attempts his 6th win of the 42,2km wheelchair marathon. 550 athletes are expected to make the trip to picturesque George, one of the most wheelchair-friendly towns in the country.
‘The OCC is growing every year,’ said event director, Esther Watson, whose aim is to involve as many people with physical disability as possible in road racing. ‘Physical activity in the fresh air boosts mental and physical wellbeing and being part of the buzz and festivity of this race is quite simply: enormous fun. We would like to encourage people from across the country to come to George and be part of this experience.’
Presented by Vodacom and Parmalat SA, the race offers a total of R229 000 in prize money for 44 categories over three distances.
Kempston Truck Hire will be sponsoring transport for the event and individuals and groups needing transport may apply to the event director.
The event is open to anyone with physically disability who is able to use a mobility assistive device like a wheelchair, racing chair, hand cycle, basketball chair or buggy.