Moving People and Changing Lives at Wheelchair Challenge
Athletes with physical disabilities tackled the twists and turns of the Outeniqua Mountain Pass with delight at the annual Outeniqua Wheelchair Challenge (OCC) in George on Saturday, 16 February 2013.
Thousands of local and international participants took part in the race, comprising a 42km full marathon, a 21km half marathon, a 10km event and a 5km fun event. The George Municipality hosted the race with the support from the Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA) at George Airport. Other stakeholders included Sport and Recreation South Africa (SRSA) and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport.
Having started eleven years ago with just 27 athletes, the race has grown to become a major annual event on the national and international calendar for disabled athletes. In 2006, the OCC received national status from the South African Sports Association for the Physically Disabled (SASAPD). In the same year, it also received international status with athletes from Europe, Scotland and America participating for the first time. Last year, the OCC was also a qualifying event for the 2012 Paralympic Games.
This year, the men’s open paraplegic 42km division was again won by the veteran Paralympic athlete Ernst van Dyk. This was his eleventh appearance at the event. Volunteers, motivational speakers and members of the public also made valuable contributions to the success of the event by pushing participants in the 5km fun event.
Events co-ordinator Ms Ansie Swart described the race as a “fantastic” experience. According to her, the race highlighted why the adage “It’s not about winning, but rather enjoying oneself” is so frequently repeated. Events like this make it possible for persons with disabilities to engage in a physical activity together, while also promoting the spirit of ubuntu.