Wheelchair journalist wins prestigious award

Quintin van Jaarsveld broke his C5 vertebra in 2000 at the age of 16 during a first-team rugby match. This year, Quintin, who is a quadriplegic and wheelchair user, was awarded joint winner of the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Sports Journalist of the Year Award at the Vodacom Journalist of the Year Regional Awards. The awards drew more than 1 000 entries with 101 from KZN journalists.

He won the award for his feature on South Coast swimmer Denita-Sue Pieterse, who refused to give up on her dream in the face of adversity. Quintin is also in the running for the national sports journalist award. The national awards ceremony will take place in Johannesburg on November 16.

Quintin formerly worked for SARugby.com and Fever Newspaper Group. He has also written a regular rugby column for Sports Illustrated and numerous features for Sports24, SuperSport, The Witness, Physique MMA Magazine, Smack Talk MMA and many more.

ROLLING INSPIRATION caught up with the current deputy editor and sports editor of eHowzit to find out how he felt about the award.

What inspired you to become a sports journalist?

My injury actually led to me becoming a sports journalist. It prompted me to combine my passion for sport and writing, which allows me stay involved in the sports world.

How do you feel about winning the award?

It’s an honour to be considered the best in KZN. God’s blessed me with a career that has had a couple of highlights like this and I give all the credit to my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. This award symbolises God’s grace – how only He can turn tragedy into triumph – and is a token of appreciation for my family and their incredible support. It is theirs much more than it is mine. I wouldn’t be where I am today, both physically and professionally, if not for them and their sacrifices, strength, support and unconditional love.

What do you still want to achieve in your career as a sports journalist?

My main goal is to climb the ladder to the point where I can provide my parents with the support and retirement they deserve.

What are some of the challenges you experience as a journalist and a wheelchair user?

The most important thing to consider, and the most unfortunate part of being a journalist, is that, 95 percent of the time, it doesn’t include health benefits and a pension plan, which is something I wasn’t aware of when I started my career 10 years ago.

The work itself has its share of challenges, such as travelling to venues and getting around once you’re there. You’re also not as hands-on as you’d like to be, so you have to do your best to make up for that with good writing. You can overcome a lot with passion and dedication.

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