Champs for disabled off to good start

POWER PLAY: Ntuli Nolwazi (white belt) from KwaZulu-Natal fights Lulama Mbila (blue belt) from the Eastern Cape Picture: EUGENE COETZEE
POWER PLAY: Ntuli Nolwazi (white belt) from KwaZulu-Natal fights Lulama Mbila (blue belt) from the Eastern Cape

East Cape competitor wins judo silver despite tough competition

The Nedbank National Championships for the disabled got off to a thrilling start with judo as the opening event at the Fairview Action Centre on Saturday. The Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Western Province brought their best athletes to the judo canvas. All three provinces were excited and ready to get going.

The competition started off with the women, who battled for three minutes to see who would get the maximum points.

The KwaZulu-Natal women were upstaged by Eastern Province, as they won two consecutive bouts.

The Western Cape showed an impeccable amount of dominance as they registered huge scores for their teams.

The young men followed soon after the women and things got more physical.

The elites from the three provinces went at each other for an extended two minutes for the women.

The men showed a lot more competitiveness as there were a couple of rivalries brewing in the different camps. The Western Province showed more dominance in the male bouts as well.

Siyamtanda Mdeleki, from Eastern Province, received a hard-fought silver medal against elite Regan Wilson, who clinched gold.

“I am really proud of myself today for getting a silver medal because I was up against a professional and I held my own,” silver medallist Mdeleki said.

“We often find that people living with disabilities are excluded from the community.

“Engaging in these events brings forth positive outcomes. Sport boosts their selfesteem and makes them know that they can also do what able-bodied people can do.

National development director for the visually impaired, Sondisa Magajana, said: “We have noticed that these athletes are able to accomplish things that able-bodied athletes cannot and that is why it is important for us to hone their skills.”

“The athletes are very professional and they realise that judo is an Olympic sport and it is humbling to see them work hard to reach that level.

“We are hoping to bring out five athletes from the Eastern Cape region to represent South Africa at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo in 2020,” Magajana said.

The athletes were later welcomed by Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Athol Trollip at the Feather Market Hall, where all nine provinces filled the venue with an eagerness to get the games started.

The four-day programme continues today with athletics, powerlifting and football at the Westbourne Oval, and will finish tomorrow with cycling.

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