SPONSRED: “Start your Impossible” and be inspired by the talented athletes who continue to break boundaries in SA.
This year marked the 60th anniversary of the South Africa Sports Association for the Physically Disabled (SASAPD) National Championships. The games, sponsored by Toyota South Africa Motors, was a momentous occasion which saw 108 sporting records being shattered.
A total of 541 athletes participated in this year’s event, which took place from 19 to 22 March. A whopping 97 South African and 11 African records were broken. And for the first time in the games’ history, it was hosted in Gauteng by the City of Ekurhuleni.
This sporting phenomenon – a World Para Athletics sanctioned event, offering qualification opportunities and world ranking points for many international events – is organised by the SASAPD, a leading sports federation for people living with physical disabilities in South Africa. The SASAPD promotes sport for athletes with disabilities and visual impairments from grassroots to Paralympic level.
It caters for various disability groups, including those with spinal cord injuries, cerebral palsy, amputees and the visually impaired and blind and les autres (a category for Paralympic competitors whose disability doesn’t fit into the other categories).
This year’s championship was themed “Start Your Impossible” and attracted entries in field and track athletics, boccia, goalball, cerebral palsy football, judo, powerlifting and para-cycling.
Athletes from eight African countries were sanctioned by the World Paralympics Association to compete at the SASAPD Championships, and they gained valuable world ranking and qualifying points for the Commonwealth Games.
Celebrating the achievements
Among the individuals breaking records was Anthony Butler, who set the F63 javelin record for open men at 29,28 m. He also improved the discus record in the same category from 19,01 to 27,03 m. Rob Jones, Butler’s contemporary in the F44 category, similarly improved the javelin record from 39,02 to 41,18 m.
Mandeline Hoffman (F44 discus), Mziwadoda Camba (F43 javelin), Katinka Fox (F38 javelin), Tyrone Pillay (F63 discus), Kim MacDonald (F64 long jump), Fabian Michaels (F35 discus), Louisa Mapayini (F42 shotput) and Kerwin Noemdo (F46 shotput) were the other field sport record breakers.
Powerlifting saw three national records broken. The Northern Cape’s Bonolo Lizwe set a new mark in the deadlift at 176 kg. Alulutho Makapela and Mbasa Qilingele, both from the Eastern Cape, benched 55 kg and 83 kg respectively. Adrian van Schalkwyk was named best junior lifter and Marshall Marsh best senior lifter.
Liezel Gouws and Tebogo Mofokeng were inspirational racetrack performers as was Paralympian and Toyota Ambassador Tyrone Pillay. And it was multiple Paralympic medallist Charl du Toit’s last national competition.
Host province Gauteng topped the medal table, winning 97 medals, with the Western Cape coming in second with 26 medals.
The 60th anniversary
According to SASAPD president Moekie Grobbelaar, the highlight of this year’s event, beyond the individual and team athletic performance, was the celebration of its 60th anniversary.
“We are delighted that after six decades our athletes are still able to achieve their dreams and set their targets for qualification in the 2024 Paralympics.”
Boccia was a notable highlight. This game is played competitively at national and international level by athletes who require a wheelchair because of their disability. It is being advanced on the continent by the SASAPD, which will be hosting the first African Boccia Championship in April.
The 2022 SASAPD National Championships also kept the future in mind with the Toyota South Africa Jumping Kids Mobility Games. This provides child amputees with an opportunity to try out their prosthetic equipment in a series of fun track events and aims to motivate children with disabilities to use sport to rehabilitate, re-integrate and potentially realise their own future Paralympian dreams.
Birthplace of dreams
Toyota South Africa Motors is a long-standing sponsor of the SASAPD. “We entered into this partnership to promote the sporting codes offered at Paralympic level for athletes with disabilities,” explains Thabo Smouse, special projects and communications manager at the company. “These games have historically provided the country’s top athletes with disabilities with a birthplace for their dreams and serve as a centre of excellence.
“Over 85 years of innovation have brought us our greatest mission yet: giving the freedom of movement to humankind. That's why Toyota is the worldwide official mobility partner of the International Olympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee, and also sponsors the SASAPD National Championship. Ultimately, Toyota believes that 'mobility' goes well beyond cars and that movement is a human right.”
Smouse adds: “As a company, we are developing mobility solutions to help everyone enjoy their lives, and we are doing our part to create an ever-better society for the next 100 years and beyond. For this to happen, we have to dream beyond conventional vehicles and create new forms of mobility that overcome the limits of today and solve the problems of tomorrow. We share this dream and this spirit of continuous improvement with the Paralympic athletes, who challenge their own limits every day.”
For the athletes who competed in the SASAPD National Championships, this could be the start, or continuation, of great things. “We need to attract as many athletes as we can so that we can get more slots at the Paralympic Games,” Grobbelaar says. “Toyota’s sponsorship of the National Championships is key in achieving this goal.”