Chaeli and Anita beat comrades

2016-06-07 11:09
Chaeli Mycroft and Anita Engelbretch where the first wheelchair athletes to enter the comrades marathon and they are proud that they were able to finish the race, which shows that even people with disabilities deserve equal opportunities just like able-bodied people.

Chaeli Mycroft and Anita Engelbretch where the first wheelchair athletes to enter the comrades marathon and they are proud that they were able to finish the race, which shows that even people with disabilities deserve equal opportunities just like able-bodied people.

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Chaeli Mycroft (21) and Anita Engelbrecht (23) became the first wheelchair athletes to successfully participate and complete the gruelling Comrades Marathon held on Sunday 29 May in Durban.

After months of in-depth conversation and preparation, Mycroft and Engelbretch made history. Mycroft and her running partners, James Chevallier and Brett Glen, entered the race as Team Beastie while Team Blitsige Blitsie was made up of Engelbrecht and her running partner, Hilton Murray.

Team Beastie finished in 10:51:45 and overall 8 427th position, with Mycroft being the 1 358th woman home.
Team Blitsige Blitsie finished in 10:57:51 overall in 9 147th position with Anita being the 1 512th woman home.
Both teams won bronze medals.

Mycroft says there was extra pressure on them to do well.
“With this being the first time that wheelchair athletes were participating in the Comrades, we had to do well. Getting a bronze medal proved that we have a right to be part of this amazing race and this opens the door for participation by other wheelchair athletes.”

There were several aspects that needed to be taken into consideration before being able to attempt the 89 kilometer downhill race.
Custom-made wheelchairs needed to be specifically made for each athlete. Their running partners participated in several marathons in preparation for the Comrades.

Both athletes believe that people living with disabilities should be given the same opportunities as able-bodied individuals.
Mycroft says: “We had to fight their way to being allowed to take part in the marathon and they believe things are beginning to change for people with disabilities as well.”

They believe in building an inclusive society for all and they used the Comrades Marathon as a fundraiser to support the Chaeli Sports and Recreation Club (CSRC).
CSRC was founded in February 2010 in an effort to provide opportunities for inclusive sport to act as a catalyst in providing opportunities for differently-abled children and adults to experience the therapeutic and healing magic that comes with being a member of a team and the joy of exercise.
The CSRC has three main sporting codes that it supports.

Engelbrecht says the support out on the road was exceptional. “I would like to thank all the runners who encouraged us along the way.”
Mycroft has cerebral palsy (spastic quadriplegic) and is currently reading for an honours degree in Social Policy and Management at the University of Cape Town. She is an ability activist, international award winner and co-founder of The Chaeli Campaign, a non-profit organisation that provides services to children with disabilities.

She has a fierce spirit and believes that people living with disabilities can achieve the impossible if given the opportunity.
In September 2015 Chaeli became the first female quadriplegic to summit Mount Kilimanjaro.
Engelbrecht has cerebral palsy (spastic diplegic) and is in her third year of reading for a B Com degree at Stellenbosch University. She has become quite the athlete and has participated in three Cape Town Cycle Tours as well as various marathons including the Red Hill Marathon and the Two Oceans Ultra Marathon.

The team has had incredible support and their main sponsor, Duesouth, has assisted the team with various aspects including their kit. McCain South Africa have also backed the team in their fundraising drive by supporting their #Comrades4All initiative. Team Beastie also made use of a SPOT Tracker which allowed their supporters to follow them every step of the way.
The CSRC believes that this is only the beginning of growing an inclusive #Comrades4All and Team Beastie and Blitsige Blitsie feel strongly in creating opportunities for other differently-abled athletes.

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