Disabled athlete's race against time to raise funds for Swiss championships

2019-06-22 07:41
Rouvaun Wallace in action. (Supplied)

Rouvaun Wallace in action. (Supplied)

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His running spikes are nearly flat, but they have carried disabled athlete Rouvaun Wallace over the finish line as he sets out to break world and national records on the track.

Wallace, 18, is in desperate need of replacing his three-year-old running shoes, but that will take a back seat as he scrapes together enough money to get him to the 2019 World Para Athletics Junior Championships in Switzerland next month.

While his family have so far funded the promising Cape Town athlete's event costs, the R45 000 price tag for the trip to Nottwil is too steep for them to cover.

Wallace, however, knows how to push ahead even when the odds are stacked against him.

Although he has yet to reach the R10 000 mark in his race against the clock, he sells hamburgers and holds his thumbs that somehow fundraisers like an upcoming karaoke will get him closer to the international event.

The teenager from Ravensmead, about 25km from Cape Town, suffers from a leg disability, with his right leg shorter and disproportionate to the other.

"While you can see my legs look different, I don't look like anything's wrong with me. I also don't let it or anything else limit me in any way," Wallace said.

His condition was diagnosed after a soccer injury in 2017. Instead of turning his back on physical activity, he set his sights on athletics for the physically disabled.

Today, Wallace is a full-time athlete, training with coach Mogamat Zain Lamara who specialises in working with disabled athletes.

The retired teacher and school athletics trainer spoke glowingly of Wallace, who earlier this year, in some of his events, met the qualifying standards for the senior division despite still being a junior.

"He could go to a national event and finish within the Top 3 without much training. But the international stage is a different story," Lamara said.

But Wallace has been putting in the hours and the work.

He cycles over 10km from his home to the Bellville Velodrome, where he trains up to four times a week.

His hard work and focus on wanting to one day see himself on TV paid off when he was chosen by the South African Sports Association for Physically Disabled Para Athletics Selection Committee to represent South Africa at the self-funded event.

"He is a naturally talented young man," Lamara maintained.

The track and field participant has raked in medals in the 100m, 200m and 400m races as well as long jump.

His disability classification is a T38, which includes athletes with coordination impairments and who may have a slight limp.

Wallace and his three siblings have been living with his grandmother, Louisa Frasenburgh, for over 10 years. His single mother died after a short illness when he was 7.

While he counts her among his biggest fans, Wallace is aware that her pension will never be enough to cover even a fraction of what it will take to get him onto a plane for his first overseas trip.

"My entire family has been helping, trying to make a plan to get me to Nottwil. They did the same for me when I needed to get to events in Bloemfontein and Stellenbosch, but an international trip is another level."

Rouvaun Wallace's disability classification is a T

Rouvaun Wallace's disability classification is a T38, which includes athletes with coordination impairments and who may have a slight limp. (Supplied)

Mark Beack, the chairperson of the Western Cape Sports Association for the Physically Disabled, said all 27 athletes selected for the championships have already been earmarked for the next Paralympic team.

"These are our future Paralympians who we want to take forward. We want to give them this opportunity to prove themselves on international fields.

"They all have the potential to bring medals home or they wouldn't have been selected."

To support Wallace's fundraising, phone his aunt, Delia, on 078 391 3560.

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