Making waves in Rio

2011-10-25 00:00

JAMES Bezuidenhout, a Grade 9 pupil at Hilton College, has turned personal adversity into singular success with performances for the South African paralympics team in Brazil that have him on course for a chance of representing his country at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

The South African team finished fourth at the event against squads representing the United States and the United Kingdom and South America­. Bezuidenhout excelled in swimming personal bests in the 100 metre freestyle, 400 m freestyle and 100 m backstroke

At such a young age, with three years of school still ahead of him, Bezuidenhout­ was placed third to win a bronze medal in the 100-metre backstroke, setting a new South African­ men’s open record in the process. He also placed fourth in the 400 m freestyle to set a new South African­ men’s record. He also placed seventh in the 100 m freestyle. These outstanding swims have put Bezuidenhout in the mix for South Africa’s London 2012 Paralympics team.

In an interview with The Witness, the swimmer from Craighall in Johannesburg­ said he suffered a cancerous­ tumour on his leg four years ago.

His disability level in terms of paralympic­ regulations is S9 — physically impaired. There are different grades of disability, which allow a sportsperson to enter a certain tier of event but not another — for example being visually impaired as opposed to physically impaired.

“Having lost my leg, I took up swimming as it was something I could still do,” said the sport-mad Bezuidenhout, who played rugby, cricket, hockey and soccer, as well as participating in athletics prior to the tumour.

Despite the setback, Bezuidenhout’s love of physical competition had not been lost, and “a desire to do well and to be competitive” is what continues to motivate him to succeed in sport.

Not altogether surprising is him citing celebrated swimmers Natalie­ du Toit as well as Achmed Hassiem as his heroes­ in paralympic sport. And considering his love of competition and the desire to reach his own personal dream, Olympic gold is a driving ambition.

Pursuing a sport that is healthy and fulfilling is personified in the Hilton lad.

“I want to be an example to all concerned and a good role model,” was Bezuidenhout’s parting shot.

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