article by Bruce Middleton.www.thegremlin.co.za
20 February 2016 – Airports Company South Africa’s George Airport helped to break barriers in the disability sports arena as over 1500 athletes completed the 14th Outeniqua Wheelchair Challenge (OCC).
Mulalo Mathelemusa – Clinching the top spot in the 42km Male Open was claimed by Ernest van Dyk who completed the race in 1:35:11. The Men’s Open Quad category winner was Pieter du Preez, coming in at 1:49:35. The Female Senior Open title was clinched by Nandi Odendaal who completed 42km in 2:23:34.
Clinching the top spot in the 42km Male Open was claimed by Ernest van Dyk who completed the race in 1:35:11. The Men’s Open Quad category winner was Pieter du Preez, coming in at 1:49:35. The Female Senior Open title was clinched by Nandi Odendaal who completed 42km in 2:23:34.
A special mention was made for 8-year-old Zach Ralph, the youngest participant in the race who completed 10km in 1:22:00.
The OCC was launched in 2002, with just 27 athletes participating in a half a marathon (21 km) race down the Outeniqua Mountain Pass into the city of George. It has now grown into a high-profile event which draws thousands of wheelchair sports enthusiasts from as far as Britain, Germany, Australia, Ghana and Zimbabwe to the shores of George. The OCC is endorsed by South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) and Disability Sports South Africa (DISSA) and is a Paralympic qualifier race.
The challenge is not only about speed, but also endurance in different race categories which include the 42,2 km marathon, 21,1 km half marathon, 10 km race and a five-kilometer fun event.
“The involvement of George Airport in the OCC represents a successful collaboration between business and local government, whose combined efforts which ensure that people with disabilities continue to have increased access to mobility and inclusion in society.” says Brenda Vorster George Airport Manager.
A wheelchair race exclusively for disabled athletes!
And - every year it is getting bigger and better! The number of entries has increased dramatically, with disabled athletes and other persons in wheelchairs flocking to this annual event.
The Outeniqua Wheelchair Challenge has been staged successfully during the past six years, growing from its humble beginnings of only 27 entries in 2002 (then known as the Outeniqua Chair Challenge -OCC) to the magnificent race attracting 511 participants in 2008!
The Challenge is not only unique as being the first and only event exclusively for the disabled in South Africa, but it is staged in the picturesque town of George, in the heart of the spectacular Garden Route in the Western Cape, situated at the foot of the splendour of the Outeniqua Mountains.
Athletes in racing wheelchairs, adapted bicycles, hand cycles, basketball chairs and ordinary wheelchairs have made this into the premier sporting event for the disabled on the South African sporting calendar. It undoubtedly has the potential to develop into one of the best events of its kind in the world!