Current and future Paralympic stars head for Stellenbosch

South Africa’s favourite Paralympic athletes will descend on Stellenbosch from 30 March to 2 April, hoping to take another significant step on the Road to Rio at the Nedbank... Read more

South Africa’s favourite Paralympic athletes will descend on Stellenbosch from 30 March to 2 April, hoping to take another significant step on the Road to Rio at the Nedbank National Championships for Physically Disabled, presented by SASAPD.

The picturesque setting of Coetzenburg for this year’s championships is sure to inspire a new group of athletes that emerged at last year’s National Champs in Pretoria, to underline the emerging talent that will represent South Africa in Rio in two years’ time.

In the four-year cycle between Paralympics, the second year is normally one of consolidation, as those medal hopefuls continue their upward curve and work on ensuring they can produce consistent performances, while setting the bar higher in order to test themselves.

This year will be no different with a full programme of events set for the Stellenbosch area and surrounds set to test those who compete.

ÔÇ£The Nedbank National Championships is always the highlight on the local calendar,ÔÇØ SASAPD president Isaac Shadung explained, ÔÇ£It is the point in every athlete’s year where they strive to be at their best, ensuring they gradually improve their own performances, while keeping one eye on their goals to qualify for Rio.

ÔÇ£Stellenbosch has always had superb facilities, and is one of the most beautiful spots to compete in around the world. We’re sure this will help inspire our athletes to perform while we cannot wait to see some of the new young talent that will emerge for the first time at these Championships.ÔÇØ

The Nedbank National Championships open on 30 March with a glittering opening ceremony and will be followed by four tough days of competition between provincial teams and individuals to ensure champions are crowned.

The Nedbank National Championships will still feature some of the biggest names in Paralympics in South Africa, including the likes of Ilse Hayes, right, Fanie van der Merwe, Hilton Langenhoven, Kevin Paul, Shireen Shapiro, Emily Gray, Jonathan Ntutu, below, and Dyan Buis.

As always, the track and field and swimming remain the drawcards, but this year the junior cycling programme will provide additional interest as well as the ever-popular Judo, Boccia, Goalball, and Sevens Football.

Nedbank have been the long-term sponsor for athletes with disabilities in South Africa and this year their involvement is no different, continuing their long-term support in helping to create new heroes for South Africans to support.

ÔÇ£Nedbank has always been proud to be the title sponsor of these championships, especially with the inspirational athletes that emerge every year. You just have to look back at some of the names who have emerged in the past from the Nedbank Championships to realise what a springboard it is for athletes,ÔÇØ┬á said Sydney Mbhele, Divisional Executive: Nedbank Group Marketing.

ÔÇ£We look forward to being inspired once again by the top athletes from around the country and to see some excellent performances that will serve South Africa well as we move closer to the goal of Rio 2016. Nedbank has always been part of that process and we’re proud to still be a major part of finding new talent to make our country proud.”

The Nedbank Championships will take place at various venues such as Coetzenburg (athletics and cycling), the Belhar Indoor Centre (sevens football), Maties soccer fields (goalball) and at the Outdoor Swimming Pool in Stellenbosch (Swimming).

Pictures: and Herman Verwey

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