As the London Paralympics fade into a wonderful memory, the 2013 Nedbank National Championships for the Physically Disabled, presented by SASAPD, will be the starting point for the next group of athletes hoping to achieve greatness in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
The Championships take place at the University of Pretoria, Tshwane from 24-27 March and it will be the first chance that those Rio hopefuls will have to make an impression and to focus their attention on the goal of being selected for the 2016 Paralympics.
Team South Africa certainly inspired with their performance in London, picking up 29 medals to finish in 18th spot overall, but the challenge now is to prepare athletes that can do even better when the Games arrive in Rio in 2016.
ÔÇ£The Nedbank Championships have served as the perfect springboard for a number of Paralympic medallists,ÔÇØ SASAPD president Isaac Shadung explained. ÔÇ£For that reason we are happy that the 2013 Nedbank Championships will be a new beginning, a new chance for new faces to impress us.
ÔÇ£London was a glorious end to a four year cycle, and this year presents us with a new start. Those athletes who will take part will take their first steps towards greatness.
ÔÇ£Likewise those who excelled into medal positions in London, or who just missed out on medaling, will start their quest to better their performances in Rio.
ÔÇ£The Nedbank Championships is a perfect place to find the stars of tomorrow, as they showcase their talent. There is no doubt that our medalists in 2016 will come from those who will be in Pretoria. The Road to Rio starts here.ÔÇØ
The Nedbank Championships will still feature some of the biggest names in Paralympics in South Africa, including athletes Ilse Hayes, Fanie van┬áder┬áMerwe, Hilton Langenhoven, Jonathan Ntutu and Dyan Buis and swimmers Kevin Paul, Shireen Shapiro and Emily Gray.
Nedbank has been a long-term sponsor of sport for athletes with disabilities in South Africa and has already taken steps to ensure the healthy foundation is extended even broader to create more heroes.
ÔÇ£Since 1992 the Nedbank Championships have been the proving ground for South Africa’s Paralympic stars, In the past one or two individuals have perhaps dominated our sporting landscape in disabled sport and it is our challenge, together with SASAPD to grow the talent pool,ÔÇØ┬á explains Andy Scott, Nedbank’s head of sponsorship.
ÔÇ£As we are at the start of a new cycle, we need to ensure that all facets of disabled sport across the board receive the right support, so that we have champions in all disciplines who have the means and support to rise to the top. Nedbank has always aspired to be the bank of choice for people with disabilities and we’re proud to be a major contributor to finding new talent to make our country proud.ÔÇØ
While track and field will be a major drawcard at the Championships, other sports taking part include swimming, football 7s, goalball, boccia, road cycling (juniors) and judo.