At the first major Paralympic competition in the run-up to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, South Africa walks away with 15 medals
So, the first major Paralympic Competition post-Rio 2016 Paralympic Games has just finished. The World Para Athletics Championships (note the new name – previously IPC Athletics World Championships) was held in London from July 14 to 23 at the London Olympic Stadium – the same stadium that was used in the London 2012 games.
The team selected to represent South Africa was a mixture of youth and experience with two Paralympic legends Ilse Hayes and Arnu Fourie competing in their last-ever World Championships. The team departed from OR Tambo on July 9. Some of the athletes were already in Europe and met up with the rest of the team on July 11.
The flag bearer for the opening ceremony was none other than the serial smiler Charl du Toit, a fitting choice, considering his achievements at Rio.
Once again, our athletes performed well on the international stage, coming tenth overall on the medal table with 15 medals. We can only build on this on the road to Tokyo 2020 and beyond.
Some stand-out performances came from Charl du Toit and Dyan Buis with two Gold medals each and newcomer Manie Blom with a Gold as well. Some athletes may have been a little disappointed with their results, but this is the perfect opportunity to take stock of where they are and plan what is needed over the next three years to achieve a podium performance.
The athletes also need to realise that investment worldwide in Para Sport is growing on a daily basis and there are no easy medals to get!
In a fitting end to their careers, Ilse was awarded two silver medals and Arnu was awarded one bronze medal. Ilse and Arnu, thank you for letting me be part of your careers and good luck for your future.
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.