The ever popular Outeniqua Wheelchair Challenge (OCC) is geared up to take place once again on 16 February 2013, when athletes with physical disabilities gather in George to compete in the various races, including a full marathon.
Since its humble beginnings in 2002 when 27 athletes took part in a race down the Outeniqua Mountain, the OCC wheelchair challenge has grown to become a major annual event on the National and International calendar for disabled athletes, with over 1000 competitors from eight countries on the start line in 2012.
The event relies heavily on patronage, and news of sponsorship renewal by the Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA)’s George Airport – the same presenting sponsor for OCC 2012 - is excellent news for both organisers and competitors alike.
Manager of ACSA George Airport, Brenda Vorster, is committed to aligning her company with the development of sport for persons with disabilities.
Says Vorster, ‘ACSA’s social investment policy and our business guideline “moving people, changing lives”, dovetail with the principles of the Outeniqua Wheelchair Challenge, making the event a superb partnership through which both organisations can grow and develop. ACSA George Airports’ social committee is already hard at work behind the scenes to prepare for OCC 2013’.
Also forming part of the ‘ground crew’ that is working to get OCC 2013 airborne are the George Municipality as host city and the George Rotary Club, who have joined the organising committee.
OCC race co-ordinator Ansie Swart invites other organisations to become involved. ‘We aim to have at least 1 050 entries for OCC 2013; and there are new opportunities for sponsors to become associated with this very popular event, such as ‘adopting’ a water point or sponsoring transport, equipment, accommodation or an athletes’ dinner at the pasta evening the night before the race. Volunteers are also needed to act as marshals and to push a participant in the 5km Fun Event.’
Swart is confident that each member of the organising committee is enthusiastic to build on the success of the previous 10 years and to present an event of very high standards. ‘Entry booklets will be posted to all clubs, schools and organisations that participated previously and are also available on the OCC website,’ she said.
In 2006 the OCC received SA Championship status from SASAPD (South African Sports Association for the Physically Disabled). In the same year it received International status with the first participation of athletes from Europe, Scotland and America. In 2012 the OCC was also a qualifying event for the Paralympic Games.
Entries can be made on-line at www.georgeocc.co.za. The closing date for entries is 31 January 2013. Entrants must be at least 16 years old to enter the 42.2km marathon and the 21.1km half-marathon in a racing wheelchair and 15 years old to enter in the hand cycle division. However, there is no age restriction for the 10km and fun races.
Any person with physical disabilities may enter provided they do so in a mobility assistive device such as a wheelchair, racing wheelchair, hand cycle, buggy or tricycle (5 km – fun event). People of any age may enter the fun event, with the assistance of a helper.
For further information, please visit www.georgeocc.co.za or telephone event co-ordinator Ansie Swart on 079 397 4655 or Marita Swanepoel on 083 610 2602.