Wheelchair tennis smashes it

The wheelchair tennis team excelled at the BNP Paribas World Team Cup in IsraEl and is now in a good position to qualify for the 2020 Paralympic Games. Our para swimming team has not been resting on its laurels either…

The South African wheelchair tennis team attended the World Team Cup in May as part of its qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. They did exceptionally well with Team South Africa attaining its first ever medal (bronze) in the men’s quadriplegic division.

In the women’s open division they came so close to achieving a medal but had to settle for a very prestigious fourth place. Well done, guys! We hope to see some more great results in the run-up to and including the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

We’re now entering the critical phase of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games qualification, especially with the World Para Swimming and World Para Athletics events taking place this year in London and Dubai respectively.

Malaysia would have hosted the World Para Swimming event initially, but because the country refuses to permit athletes from Israel to compete it was stripped of hosting privileges. London has since won the bid to host the event from September 7 to 15 at its Olympic/Paralympic swimming venue.

South Africa has a team of seven swimmers participating, including two female and five male athletes. Collectively they have international experience in various renowned events such as the World Championships and Paralympic Games.

Multiple world champion and Paralympian Hendri Herbst is the most senior athlete in the squad. He won a bronze in the 100 m Freestyle S11 event at the 2012 Paralympic Games and was a member of the 2016 Paralympic Games team in Rio de Janeiro. The team also includes Christian Sadie and Franco Smit, who were medal winners in the 2017 World Para Swimming Championships in Mexico City. Sadie also received a medal at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

There is a major rebuild happening in South Africa in the field of para swimming and I know that in future, beyond Tokyo, we are going to become an international force once again. A personal highlight for me is the inclusion of my fellow Paralympian and friend Tadhg Slattery in the coaching setup.

Slattery is a legendary para swimmer with multiple World and Paralympic Games medals.

Now a dedicated coach, he is working very hard to get more swimmers into the pool, especially youngsters from previously disadvantaged communities.

The full team:

Women: Alani Ferreira and Cornelle Leach

Men: Hendri Herbst, Christian Sadie, Franco Smit, Hendrik van der Merwe and Kabelo Zwane

Coaches and officials: Theo Verster, Tadgh Slattery, Cedric Finch, Ilse Marie Langenhoven and Corrinne Sheppard (physiotherapist).

Let’s all get behind this team on their quest to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. And let’s not forget that without the partnership of Toyota and Citibank, these athletes would not be able to attend events like these. A big thank you to the sponsors!


Leon Fleiser has been involved with sport in the disability sector since 1992, when he started playing wheelchair basketball. He captained the national team to the Sydney Paralympic Games and the 2002 World Championships. He started working for Disability Sport South Africa in 2001 as a Coordinator for High Performance. It merged into SASCOC in 2005 and he is now the Manager for Team Preparation and Academy Systems. He has delivered Team South Africa to numerous Olympic, Paralympic, Commonwealth and African Games.

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