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Para-sport action at the Nedbank National Championships for Physically Disabled and Visually Impaired kicks off in Bloemfontein today.

Close to 1135 athletes, team managers, coaches and team assistants from all over the country, including teams from Lesotho and Namibia, are expected to attend.

The event (20 -24 March) features eight sport codes at various venues of which the Athletics, at the Manguang Stadium, is bound to be a cracker.

With less than six months to go until the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, this year’s champs will see many elite track and field athletes, as well as exciting new talent, pushing to qualify for possible selection to the squad bound for Brazil.

Participating National athletes include:

Andrea Dalle Ave, Arnu Fourie, Casper Schutte, Fanie van der Merwe, Ilse Hayes, Danie Breitenbach, Louzanne Coetzee, Juanelie Meijer, Dyan Buis, Union Sekailwe, Johan van Heerden, Johnathan Ntutu, Hilton Langenhoven, Charl du Toit, Tyrone Pillay, Teboho Mokgalagadi and Reinhardt Hamman.

“It has been ten year’s since Free State hosted this event and, seeing that it is the last chance for disabled athletes and swimmers to qualify for Rio on home soil;  a bigger, better affair is planned for all,” says a spokesperson for the Free State Sport Association for Physically Disabled (FSSAPD).

The week leading up to today produced some exciting results in para-sport.

Hayes (T13)* ran a solid 100m to become Boland Champion, Dalle Ave (T37) set a new African Record with a leap measuring 6.06m in the long jump, and fourteen year old  Ntando Mahlangu, who is a bilateral above knee amputee, ran a 50.70 in the 400m at the AGN champs for silver.

Mahlangu (T42) will be in action in the 100, 200 and 400m at Nedbank champs. He was also selected to represent Gauteng North in the Boys under-16 400m and Relay items at the ‘able’ SA champs taking place at the end of March.

“We invite the Bloemfontein public to support this prestigious event.  Entry at all venues will be free of charge so, let’s step up and stand out to show support for the Paralympic Movement.”

Good luck to all athletes going for gold at this year’s event!

#Bloem2016 #NedbankChamps #TeamSArise #RoadtoRio #Rio2016 #Paralympics #bringingtrackback #isability



T13                         –              track, visually impaired

T37                         –              track, cerebral palsy

T42                         –              track, amputee, above-knee


Written by: Liezel van Rensburg

Photo by: SASAPD