The 2018 Outeniqua Wheelchair Challenge (OCC) for disabled athletes, organized by the Disabled Road Race Foundation (RDDF), was formally launched on 12 December.
The 2018 OCC will for the first time take place on Sunday 18 February in order to cause less traffic disruption, but most importantly to get business people and residents the opportunity to support the only sporting event of this kind for disabled athletes in South Africa, which also enjoys international recognition as a training opportunity for the Paralympics.
“The OCC is an event of heroes,” said Iona Kritzinger, Speaker of George Municipality. “On this one day, people living with disabilities achieve something.” She recalled the first OCC, organised by the late Esther Watson, which started at the top of the Outeniqua Pass.
“The future of the OCC was in balance when Esther passed away, but by sheer determination of the organisers, the event went ahead. It is hard work and there is no glamour in the days preceding the race, but it is all worthwhile, because this is the only opportunity these athletes get to achieve something extraordinary.”
Routes and Race Village
The 21,1 km and 42,2 km races will start and finish at the Garden Route Mall. From the mall the route runs along one of the lanes of Courtenay Street to the traffic circle, where turns left into one lane of York Street to the traffic circle at the entrance to the city. The turning point is at PW Botha Boulevard, from where the race will follow the same route back to the starting point.
The Race Village, consisting of tents covering 1200 sq² tents, will be erected on 5 ha vacant land belonging to Halfway Toyota near the Eden Meander, where the 10 km race and 5 km fun event will also take place. Some 23 ha of additional vacant land in the area will be used for parking.
The awareness campaign involving learners from various schools will take place at the Garden Route Mall on Friday 16 February. More information will be available at a later stage.
The DRRF is organizing the OCC. New board of directors of the DRRF include Alewijn Dippenaar (chairperson), Niel Els (Media and Marketing), Fuad Choonara (sponsors), Roslyn Saptoe (Finance and Admin), Richard Shumi (Business Mobilisation), Sean Snyman (Community and Volunteers), Karools Hauptfleish (Race Village and Accommodation), and Pieter Nel (vice chairperson and Routes).
Portfolio Champions include Chain Gang (Registration and Timekeeping), Eden Lions (Race Village), George Lions (Route Coordination), Rotary (Meals), Interface by Goji (PR and Marketing) and APD (Entries).
The DRRF proposes to present a weeklong event including other sporting codes for people with disabilities in 2019.
ACSA/George Airport, who donated R900 000, is the main sponsor of the OCC for the third consecutive year. Airport manager Brenda Vorster did not attend the launch due to illness.
The George Municipality, who has acted as host since the inception of the OCC in 2002, handed the DRRF a cheque of R250 000. The municipality provides logistical support regarding closure of roads and traffic marshalling, among others.
According to Sean Snyman, Councillor of George Municipality, the value of the OCC lies in creating awareness about the unique challenges facing a person living with a disability. “At this stage, this is the one day in a year that these disabled athletes can fit into the world.”
He said one must look beyond a person’s disability, and focus on their abilities and the courage to, for example, take part in the gruelling 42,2 km race in a hand cycle.
“Universal accessibility is a right, not a privilege, and society is not efficiently catering for disabled people. In the light of including other sporting codes, we should start making sporting fields ready for use by disabled athletes. This can only be achieved with the help of able-bodied persons.”
Snyman, who lost the use of his right arm in a gruesome car accident, reminded able-bodied persons that everybody is at any time just moments away from a disability.
The launch was hosted by Gericke Visser, manager of Town Lodge.
Contact Alewijn Dippenaar at 082 457 5675 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. www.georgeocc.co.za