Dis­abled biker notches up Dakar Rally suc­cess

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - YOLISA TSWANYA

A DECADE ago, Joey Evans was ren­dered para­plegic af­ter a race ac­ci­dent, but at the week­end he de­fied the odds when he com­pleted the 2017 Dakar Rally in Ar­gentina.

Evans, from Gaut­eng, was the only South African on two wheels left in the race and fin­ished 93rd over­all.

He had bro­ken his T8 and T9 ver­te­brae and crushed his spinal cord, leav­ing him paral­ysed from be­low the chest down, when com­pet­ing in the Hei­del­berg Hare Scram­ble in 2007.

His daugh­ter Jenna Evans posted a mes­sage to her fa­ther af­ter he com­pleted the rally at his first at­tempt.

“From be­ing left a para­plegic, to pray­ing and be­ing able to learn to walk again. Then you started rid­ing again one lap at a time, with your friends help­ing you on and off the bike, to rac­ing again and fin­ish­ing races.”

She added that her fa­ther had been in­volved in an­other race ac­ci­dent when he col­lided with a cow, and was back in hos­pi­tal for phys­io­ther­apy.

“You then started hav­ing your dream play in your mind over and over… your dream to do the Dakar. And so you planned and de­cided you would do it. You fund-raised, you lost weight, you worked your “Joey magic” and got all the help you needed and more with all the sup­port of all your friends, fam­ily and even peo­ple you don’t know!

“Your story is now known all over and is in­spir­ing peo­ple daily. I am so proud of you, dad.”

ZA Bik­ers ed­i­tor Si­mon Mor­ton and other bik­ing en­thu­si­asts met Evans last year and as­sisted him with fund-rais­ing to get him to Dakar. Mor­ton said that af­ter meet­ing him, they all came away as “firm Joey fans”.

“His in­cred­i­ble courage and ab­so­lute hu­mil­ity shone through as he shared his story. We felt that if sheer guts could get Joey to the finish at Dakar, he was in it with a se­ri­ous chance. What we, and no one else for that mat­ter, could ever imag­ine was how Joey could achieve his dream.”

The gru­elling race saw rid­ers be­ing on the road for up to 21 hours a day, and Evans rode the bet­ter part of the Dakar with a torn lig­a­ment in his knee.

Mor­ton said they were amazed at how per­sis­tent Evans was, say­ing: “No mat­ter what the race threw at him, be it mud, sand, heat, cold, al­ti­tude or what­ever, he sim­ply sucked it up and sol­diered on. Those of us fol­low­ing his progress were as­tounded by his re­silience as he bat­tled im­pos­si­ble chal­lenges and over­came them.”

MIRAC­U­LOUS: Para­plegic Joey Evans achieved the im­pos­si­ble, many thought, of achiev­ing his dream by fin­ish­ing the 2017 Dakar Rally in Ar­gentina.

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