Anticipation builds as we wait to hear who will be the team to participate in the 2018 Commonwealth Games, and South Africa can be proud to be on the five-country expert panel for Tokyo 2020.
The World Para Powerlifting and World Para Swimming Championships have now been officially rescheduled, following the devastating earthquake that forced their postponement. The competition took place from December 2 to 7, 2017. Unfortunately, one of the top South African Para swimmers, Hendri Herbst, could not participate, as he had university exams to write. (I will give an update on the results of these events in the next issue.)
Apart from the Wheelchair Marathon and Wheelchair Basketball, the sporting season has all but ended for this year, but Ernst van Dyk keeps on being right up there in all the marathons, winning an awesome fourth place in the New York Marathon after a sprint finish.
Wheelchair Basketball South Africa hosted the IWBF Africa World Championship Qualifiers from November 18 to 24, 2017, at the Tongaat Indoor Sports Centre in KwaZulu-Natal. Both the South African men’s and women’s teams competed in extremely tough groups.
I was recently invited by the International Paralympic Committee to be part of an expert panel to travel to Tokyo, Japan, to give help and advice to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games local organising committee. It was a huge honour for me and South Africa to be part of a five-country expert panel and shows how we as a nation are highly regarded in the Paralympic Movement.
Let me also whet your appetite for Tokyo! What an amazing city. I think that it will put on a very special Olympic and Paralympic games. If you ever wanted to go to a Games as a spectator, this is the one you want to go to. The city doesn’t sleep and the population is fully behind the games. I can’t wait.
I have been following the new IPC President, Andrew Parsons, on social media, who has now completed his first 100 days in the position, and let me tell you, as I mentioned before, he has stepped into the huge shoes that Sir Philip Craven left in impressive style. He has accomplished a great deal in a short period and we can only get stronger with him at the helm of this mammoth ship. Keep it up, Mr President!
We are now looking forward to January 25 when the announcement will be made on the team to do battle at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia. Hopefully, there will be athletes competing in:
• Para Athletics
• Para Lawn Bowls
• Para Table Tennis
• Para Swimming
Good luck to the athletes to be selected: we know you will fly the flag high.
That’s me for the year, Happy New Year all, and all the best for a great 2018!
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.