As South Africa starts to emerge from lockdown, the sporting world returns to a new normal. But what will this entail? Leon Fleiser reflects
My last column was at the start of this horrible pandemic. The Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games made history by being postponed for a year. All sporting competitions and most events came to a grinding halt as South Africa went into a gruelling five-month lockdown.
The athletes were hit very hard by this lockdown; funds dried up and they had no access to training. This caused severe stress on all athletes and coaches. It was and still is not good. Our sporting people are struggling big time!
The Department of Sports, Arts and Culture made some funding available for COVID relief and I was privileged enough to be placed on the adjudication panel. Some of our elite para athletes and coaches did manage to receive some funding through this avenue and we need to thank the minister and his department officials for assisting.
We are slowly going back to normal in the sporting world with the return to training and matches, however, still no travelling internationally for our para sport heroes. We hope that the international season next year will help them qualify and prepare for the Tokyo Games.
For now, though, we just need to be behind them and cheer them on as it has probably been the worst time in their athlete careers and they really need us.
Please be on the lookout for their social media posts and back them and cheer them and support them, it will make a huge difference to them knowing we behind them through thick and thin.
A big shout out to Wheelchair basketball South Africa and their Partners especially SuperSport for hosting the 23rd SuperSport Series from 21 to 25 October 2020 at the Vodacom Mandeville Indoor Centre. Congratulations to all teams that participated and well done to the Diesel Electric Eagles for winning the competition.
Thanks all and hopefully at the next issue we can celebrate more athletic achievements by our Paralympic Heroes.
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. email: firstname.lastname@example.org