Steve Pike

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

THE in­clu­sion of surf­ing in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics has had a dra­matic im­pact on the sport.

The Olympics are now a ma­jor fac­tor in all plans, whether by ad­min­is­tra­tors plan­ning events or surfers them­selves.

Adap­tive surf­ing is also part of the story, with the 2020 Par­a­lympics in Tokyo. Serendip­i­tously, the in­au­gu­ral ISA World Adap­tive Surf­ing Cham­pi­onships took place last year, which paves the way for rapid re­gional de­vel­op­ment in adap­tive surf­ing.

Cape Town’s Antony Smyth top- scored for the na­tional team last year with a sil­ver in the stand-up di­vi­sion.

Suitably in­spired and with Olympics sta­tus a bonus, he and a team of adap­tive ath­letes, ad­min­is­tra­tors, con­sul­tants and friends have been hard at work set­ting up Adap­tive Surf­ing South Africa.

Their work has cul­mi­nated in the first-ever na­tional cham­pi­onship for adap­tive surfers, to be held in Muizen­berg on Oc­to­ber 16.

Smyth told me that he was hop­ing up to 30 surfers will en­ter from around the coun­try, from which eight mem­bers of the na­tional team needs to be se­lected for the world champs in San Diego, Cal­i­for­nia in early De­cem­ber.

And from there, the Par­a­lympics build-up be­gins. He urged prospec­tive ath­letes to come for­ward. “We need you!” Smyth says.

The event will com­prise six cat­e­gories, in­clud­ing two stand- up ( or kneel­ing) di­vi­sions, one prone, one as­sisted, one up­right (seated in a pad­dle craft), and a blind cat­e­gory.

The sto­ries be­hind how they be­came adap­tive surfers makes for scary read­ing, but they have long moved on.

Take prone team mem­ber last year, Dries Mil­lard, 25, who is well- known for his coun­try­wide surf clin­ics.

When he was 18, he played rugby for Boland and had just earned a rugby schol­ar­ship to univer­sity when his car veered off a cliff. Ly­ing in ICU, paral­ysed from the waist down, he heard the news that he had been se­lected for the Ju­nior Springboks.

In May 2009, pho­tog­ra­pher Jean- Pierre Veaudry ( SA standup team mem­ber) was re­turn­ing from a shoot on his mo­tor­bike when a hit-and-run left him with an am­pu­tated lower right leg.

And aged five, Smyth (stand-up) suf­fered a Brachial Plexus in­jury to his right arm in a car ac­ci­dent. He can’t move his fin­gers, hand and wrist or ro­tate his el­bow.

Bruno Hansen, prone gold medal­list for Den­mark last year, was shot dur­ing a botched car­jack­ing on his way to Cape Town In­ter­na­tional air­port while re­turn­ing to his job as cap­tain of an In­done­sian surf char­ter boat.

His South African pass­port has lapsed, ac­cord­ing to Smyth, but Bruno hopes to make the na­tional team next year after reap­ply­ing.

Not only will the adap­tive SA cham­pi­onships be a plat­form for fu­ture hon­ours, but should do much to pop­u­larise the event, pro­vid­ing a glimpse of how in­spi­ra­tional these ath­letes are.

As an ex­am­ple, Smyth shared an anec­dote after the world champs last year. He asked five surfers in San Diego whether they would re­turn to life be­fore their dis­abil­ity.

With­out hes­i­ta­tion, para­plegics and limb­less folk alike, the an­swer was a re­sound­ing “no”.

They had be­come bet­ter peo­ple. The epiphanic res­o­nance of these life lessons tran­scended even the con­cept of be­ing “able”.

Be­sides, what is able? What is dis­abled? These ath­letes don’t know the dif­fer­ence.

● See https:// www. face­book. com/ adap­tivesurf­in­g­southafrica

Cas­cais Pro

THE women’s world ti­tle has been de­layed after Court­ney Con­logue won the Cas­cais Women’s Pro, beat­ing No 1 Tyler Wright in the fi­nal.

Wright would have won the world ti­tle had she won, but now must wait for France be­fore she can claim it. Con­logue is hot on her heels though.

South Africans Mickey Fe­bru­ary and Beyrick de Vries were knocked out of the QS men’s event that has been run­ning con­cur­rently with the women.

Bil­l­abong Ju­nior Se­ries

GREAT surf greeted the young­sters com­pet­ing in the Bil­l­abong Ju­nior Se­ries fi­nale yes­ter­day at Seal Point. Some of the surfers are fresh from their stint with South Africa at the ISA VISSLA World Ju­nior Surf- ing Cham­pi­onships.

See www. face­book. com/ Bil­l­abongSA for in­for­ma­tion. The event con­cludes tomorrow.

Weather Tip

THE surf looks 3-4’ to­day, and with south in the di­rec­tion, a lot still push­ing into False Bay. Muizen­berg should be 3’ and mod­er­ate SW winds could mean fairly de­cent surf.

The other side looks sideshore and in­ter­mit­tent. Tomorrow looks sunny and crisp, with clean seas and a fresh SE, with pure off­shores that go largely to waste.

A soft 10-sec­ond swell runs, with 2-4’ peaks pos­si­ble on the beach­breaks: at best. Muizen­berg on­shore and 2’.

TWISTER: Court­ney Con­logue of the US won Heat 3 of the quar­ter-finals at Cas­cais Women’s Pro 16.

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