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Disabled athletes in Mpumalanga will soon be winning medals for the province.

Juané le Roux and Collin-Lee Harty could be among those who will be flying the Mpumalanga flag at the 2023 national championships.

The Mpumalanga Sport Association for the Physically Disabled (MPSAPD) was launched at Hoërskool Nelspruit on October 11.

In the past, Mpumalanga’s physically disabled athletes had to compete under the banner of Athletics Gauteng, but now have a organised support base in their own province.

The MPSAPD was introduced by DP Badenhorst, vice president: Ehlanzeni District of Mpumalanga Athletics (AMPU), to invited role players.
“In the past, Mpumalanga athletes were representing Gauteng at national championships. There was no provincial structure in Mpumalanga.

Athletes had to travel vast distances to Gauteng to qualify for these events.

“Through Athletics Mpumalanga, we have decided to create our own structure. Currently the MPSAPD caters for athletics, but new sports will be added in the future.

“AMPU is currently the guardian of the MPSAPD in terms of funding where possible.

“Currently it is a big learning process for the MPSAPD, as we know very little of the world of sport for disabled and vision impaired athletes,” said Badenhorst.

The MPSAPD will be represented by one club per district; Eskom Gijimas in Nkangala, LowMed Running Club in Ehlanzeni and Sasol Athletics Club in Gert Sibande.

The management structure of MPSAPD is:
• Chairperson: DP Badenhorst
• Vice chairperson: Andries Burger
• Secretary: Hellouise van Dyk
• Additional member: To be appointed
• Athletes’ representative: To be appointed

Badenhorst gave a short introduction to two athletes who have the potential to be among the first MPSAPD national medal winners, Juané le Roux (a Hoërskool Nelspruit pupil who was present at the launch) and Collin-Lee Harty.

Photo: Stefan de Villiers.

Juané (classification F46) won gold medals in the shotput, discus and javelin at the 2022 South African Sports Association for Physically Disabled (SASAPD) Championships and is the national record holder in her age group for all three events.

Collin-Lee (classification T47) is a sprinter and won gold medals and set records in the 100m and 200m boys’ U17 at the 2022 SASAPD Championships.

The objectives of MPSAPD are:
• To create a sustainable structure for
the future.
• To promote sport for the physically and visually impaired athletes.
• To create awareness within the province for disabled sport for physically and visually impaired athletes.
• To oversee and make sure development of disabled sport for the physically and visually impaired is taking place.
• To put a accessible classifying system in place for disabled athletes within each district in the province.
• To create opportunities as a
province for athletes to participate at a national level.

The launch was concluded by a very special guest, Moekie Grobbelaar, the president of SASAPD, and one of South Africa’s most successful multidiscipline athletes of all time.

From 1982 to 2008 she won multiple national and international medals and titles, and competed on the highest level in track and field, marathon, powerlifting and ballroom dancing.

Grobbelaar competed in the 2000, 2004 and 2008 Paralympic Games.

In 1987 she competed a marathon in two hours and 12 minutes.

She gave an insight into disabled sport and officially launched the MPSAPD.

“Launching the MPSAPD is fantastic. This is a baby that is still in the cot, and this baby is going to scream because it is hungry and it has a wet bum.

Do not be scared. You need to make sure that in Witbank, in Middelburg, in Nelspruit and the rural areas around them, you bring the sport closer to the athletes.

“You are going to get this baby out of the cot, make him walk, and in a couple of years, Mpumalanga is going to be one of the biggest in the game.

“I want to congratulate the MPSAPD for taking this step,” said Grobbelaar.

The MPSAPD trials to select the team to compete in the national champs in March 2023, will be held at Secunda Athletics Stadium on January 14.
For more information on the MPSAPD, phone Badenhorst on 083 265 9806.

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