As Team South Africa returns from the Commonwealth Games, it is the ideal time to reflect on the most accessible Games yet and the impressive performance from our para athletes.
We are back from a very successful Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. It was the biggest inclusive Games ever, boasting the most para sporting events. All para athletes were extremely happy, because all the para events were part of the sporting programme. Hats off to our athletes without disabilities who accepted the para athletes as an integral part of the SA team.
The Gold Coast Local Organising Committee ensured that the accessibility of the athletes’ village was world class. As a wheelchair user myself, I have to say that this was the nicest and most accessible village I have ever seen – and I have been to many games.
From the accommodation and the dining hall to the wheelchair and prosthetic repair centre – it was all amazing. The transport was impeccable with all the buses fully accessible. The Games were accessible to all athletes as well as a number of the volunteers who also have a disability.
The wheelchair seating areas at the stadiums were also impressive. They allowed wheelchair users to attend with a guest. The public transport was also upgraded for the Games and, as a wheelchair user, there was no difficulty in using it. Well done, Gold Coast!
Now, for the important bit, the performances! Team South Africa as a whole did exceptionally well and our para athletes did not disappoint either, with a total of eight medals across three sporting events, with para athletes again proving to be a powerhouse on the World Para Athletics circuit. Below are the medallists per event:
Ndodomzi Jonathan Ntutu (Gold) T12 100 m
Hilton Langenhoven (Silver) T12 100 m
Dyan Buis (Silver) T37/38 100 m
Charl du Toit (Bronze with a world record for T37) T37/T38 100 m
Reinhardt Hamman (Bronze) T38 SHOT PUT
Para Lawn Bowls
Nozipho Schroeder and Philippus Walker (Silver) Mixed B2/B3 Pairs for the visually impaired
Tobias Botha, Christopher Patton and Willem Viljoen (Bronze) Open B6/B7/B8 Triples
Christian Sadie (Silver) Men’s S7 50 m Freestyle
Well done to all! You made us so proud, showcasing your talent for the world to see. Enjoy your prize money. Let’s get behind those athletes who are preparing for Tokyo 2020 and hope they go all the way at the world’s biggest sporting spectacle for athletes with disabilities!
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.