By Mark Etheridge
Some of South Africa’s leading para-athletes have been left in the lurch, as the 2017 Para Sport Festival in Mexico City has been postponed due to Tuesday’s devastating earthquake.
More than 200 people have already died in the 7.1 magnitude quake.
Para-swimming and para-powerlifting were the two sports due to be contested between 30 September and 6 October – the first time that two of para-sport’s biggest global competitors have been staged together.
More than 550 swimmers and 360 powerlifters from 65 countries were scheduled to gather in the city.
Although the two venues – the Francis Marquez pool and Juan de la Barrera gymnasium – look to have only sustained minor damage, it’s the athletes’ and officials’ hotel accommodation which has been badly affected.
South Africa had only one para-powerlifter scheduled to compete, Kimberley’s Ricardo Fitzpatrick.
‘We don’t know much at all now and I just have to wait and hear from my agent in terms of rescheduling and flights etcetera,’ said Fitzpatrick.
‘Obviously the postponement means you have to adapt your whole training, as it’s crucial to peak at exactly the right day of competition.
Rio Paralympian Alani Ferreira was part of the swimming squad scheduled to compete.
‘It’s absolutely devastating what has happened to the country,’ said the Maties, Stellenbosch, swimmer.
‘My path forward is to train as if it’s going to happen later, so I’m going to go back into hard training and gym again to gain as much strength and fitness before the second round.
‘We were in the middle of tapering so we have to get back into normal training until further notice to keep the fitness going.
‘We were meant to fly this coming Tuesday.’
Picture of Ferreira in 2016 Paralympic action courtesy of Wessel Oosthuizen