While this year’s OCC Wheelchair Challenge held on Saturday the 14th was not the best attended by spectators and competitors alike, it certainly offered competitive and exciting racing. Many of the well-known and regular competitors were sadly missing as their schedules could not fit in with the date changes introduced for this year’s event.
There were however a number of interesting competitors; Raphael Botsyo a 3 time para Olympian, number 6 in the world and the African sprint Champion from Ghana has been racing here for a the past 5 years. He always feels very welcome at this event and sees himself as one of the OCC family. The OCC race, a long distance event, forms part of his training for his speciality, track sprinting.
Hanno van Jaarsveld hails from Cape Town riding a German designed racing chair, I thought it was designed by Harley Davidson, it had a definite easy rider feel about it.
Martin Ferreira from Pretoria has been training for 2 months and covered only 30 km in this period, the OCC is his first race in a wheelchair, as a runner in his former life he is glad to be back competing again. His “racing chair” looks fairly advanced, he is still perfecting his technique and his ability to use it effectively in all facets of racing. The chair is light and has a number of adjustments to allow for more arm time on the wheels. I spoke to Martin after the race, he was happy with his time and enjoyed it immensely he will be back next year.
Henry le Fleur, the chairman of “The Challengers” a group from Great Brak River, was one of a 15 member wheelchair group taking part in the fun ride. They are from Wolwedans, Great Brak River brought to the event by Ieden Meyer, the local representative of the Association for People with Disabilities (APD). All members were rearing to go for their 5km jaunt, a race they have not missed over the past 9 years that the OCC has been run. This group, run by the APD Mossel Bay Adult Day Care Centre, meet daily in a double garage, rented for them for personal and spiritual support and stimulation and a daily meal.
Participants fltr: Raphael Botsoy (Ghana), Martin Ferreira (Pretoria) and Hanno van Jaarsveld (Cape Town)
Main Image: The Challengers from Great Brak River