Another Paralympic Games has come and gone, and now we’re preparing for Tokyo 2020. Hopefully some new stars will come through and make a name for themselves
The next four years leading up to 2020 will be a challenging time. The rest of the world is investing heavily in para-sport and we need to do the same if we want to keep our results up there with the global competition. There will be two major World Championships this year – the Para-Athletics in London and Para Swimming in Mexico. Hopefully we can give some youngsters a taste of high-level international competition at these events. Of course, they must ensure that they meet the entry standard for these events. We can then focus on all our talented athletes to ensure that the 2020 Paralympics is a successful event for South Africa.
The South African Sports Association for the Physically Disabled will be holding the National Championships, once again sponsored by Nedbank, in March in Port Elizabeth. These games are crucial for us, because this is where we uncover the athletic talent of the future. Hopefully this year will be the same – and will produce some promising young athletes. Nedbank needs to be commended once again for nurturing its long and valuable relationship with sport for people with disabilities. Without its commitment, we simply would not be as good as we are.
Another exciting development that occurred late last year was that the SASOL U/23 basketball team Amawheelaboys qualified for the World Championships in Canada this year. This is great news after the disappointment when the men’s and women’s teams did not qualify for Rio 2016. The talent is good and this hopefully bodes well for 2020. Go guys and good luck at the World Championships.
That’s it for now. Let’s continue supporting all our top athletes this year and let them know that the nation and all of us with disabilities are behind them!
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.