George, Western Cape – Presented by ACSA (George Airport), the 10th anniversary race met the organisers’ goal to attract over 1 000 entrants – the highest number of competitors ever – including top athletes from around the world and all over South Africa.
Taking top honours in the hand cycle division in the men’s open paraplegic 42.2km division was Ernst van Dyk (Maties Helderberg club), setting a new course record of 1:08:29.
Van Dyk, who hails from Paarl, has been racing for 10 years, and had an average race speed of 38 kilometres per hour. This is the tenth time he has entered the OCC race.
Speaking after the race, Van Dyk praised organisers and spoke of fierce competition. ‘All the hard training is worth it to be able to stand on the winner’s podium today. Other competitors were constantly right behind me. The race was not easy to win – I couldn’t relax for a single minute! We worked hard together but it was still not easy to win. As always, the race was very well organised and the course was extremely safe, thanks to the Traffic Officials from George Municipality, with no danger from traffic.’
Alfred Muroyiwa from Zimbabwe took first place in the men’s open T53/54 Racing Wheelchair division with a time of 2:23:09.
In a winning time of 2:02:27, Hilary Lewis van South Africa won the Open Paraplegic ladies Paraplegic division.
Prize money of R244 000 was split over 44 categories in three distances – a 42.2 km full marathon (with a R10 000 first prize), a 21.1 km half-marathon for athletes using racing wheelchairs or hand cycles, and a 10 km distance, which also allowed basketball chairs and ordinary wheelchairs. Junior Tiaan Boshoff from Hermanus with his handcycle won the 10km distance in a time of 0:22:32.
The OCC wheelchair race South Africa’s only international wheelchair road racing sporting event for persons with disabilities, and is recognised as an official Championship event by the SA Sports Association for the Physically Disabled (SASAPD).
The 5km fun event, in which young and old were pushed in their wheelchairs by a helper, attracted entrants of all ages from all corners of the country. The youngest competitor was Miduyo Tyanase of Plettenberg Bay and the oldest was Stefanus Hoffman of George.
Celebrity actor and comedian Alfred Ntombela delighted spectators with antics as he pushed Sheronique Draai in the fun event, while Katlego Maboe joined in the fun by pushing Veronique Pietersen both children of Optima Special Day care centre from George.
Helping with the smooth running of the 10th OCC anniversary event were more than 900 people, who were involved as organisers, volunteers, officials and chair pushers.
Event director Esther Watson was delighted with the day. “As the last athlete crossed the finish line, I breathed a sigh of relief that we had once again kept our record of zero casualties 100% intact. It is an honour and a privilege to feel we have made a difference in the lives of the competitors by providing an opportunity for them to compete as well as have fun. I am forever in awe of the achievements of every one of these special athletes. Thank you to all who helped to ensure that the event was a roaring success.’
Guts, determination, adrenalin and sweat. . . these features marked every competitor in Saturday’s Outeniqua Wheelchair Challenge (OCC) in George, in which a record number of athletes with disabilities from seven countries competed. For race results, more photographs and further information, please visit http://www.georgeocc.co.za/ or telephone event director Esther Watson on 082 421 9359.