Sport for Mobility Impaired
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Contents: To jump to the topic you would like, click on the links below
- International Paralympic Committee
- SASAPD (South African Sports Association for Physically Disabled)
- The South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC)
- Types of Sport
- Sports appropriate for my disability
Having a Mobility Impairment or Physical Disability, (whatever you prefer to call it) does not mean that you cannot take part in physical activities like Sport. In-fact Mobility impaired sports or Disabled Sports in South Africa are both very popular & successful.
Sportsman with impairments in South Africa have in-fact outperformed their able bodied teams by some distance.
The South African Paralympic team has consistently finished near the top of the medal table at every Summer Paralympic Games since the country was re-admitted. At their readmission in the 1992 Summer Paralympics in Barcelona the team was ranked 27th by medal tally, in 2008 they reached sixth place, the team's best performance to date.
Notable South African athletes with disabilities include:
- Natalie du Toit – swimming
- Ernst van Dyk – wheelchair racing and hand cycling (current record holder of ten wins at the Boston Marathon)
- Kgothatso Montjane – wheelchair tennis
Whatever your age, disability, experience level, or gender, there's a place for you in Mobility impaired sports. Whether you prefer team or individual sports, Winter or Summer sports, high action or something a bit slower, If you've got the enthusiasm & the drive, you can find something in this section that will suit you. Focus on the things you can do, rather than those you cannot.
Organized sport for persons with physical disabilities existed as early as 1911, when the "Cripples Olympiad" was held in the U.S.A. Later, events often developed out of rehabilitation programs. Following the Second World War, in response to the needs of large numbers of injured ex-service members and civilians, sport was introduced as a key part of rehabilitation. Sport for rehabilitation grew into recreational sport and then into competitive sport.
Adapted sports help society learn about disability. They also can help remove some of the stigma associated with having a disability.A wide range of sports have been adapted to be played by people with various disabilities, as well as several that are unique to disabled athletes.
Disabled sports have improved remarkably since 1911, with many earning a living from their sport & some like Natalie du Toit & Oscar Pistorius competing as equals against able bodied athletes at various events including the Olympic Games & Commonwealth Games.
Globally, the International Paralympic Committee is recognized as the leading organization, with direct governance of nine sports, and responsibility over the Paralympic Games and other multi-sport, multi-disability events. Other international organizations, notably the International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation (IWAS), the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA), International Sports Federation for Persons with Intellectual Disability (INAS) and the Cerebral Palsy International Sports and Recreation Association (CP-ISRA) govern some sports that are specific to certain disability groups.
The nine sports that the International Paralympic Committee has direct governance over include: Paralympic athletics, Paralympic swimming, Paralympic shooting, Paralympic powerlifting, Para-alpine skiing, Paralympic biathlon, Paralympic cross-country skiing, ice sledge hockey and Wheelchair DanceSport. This requires the IPC to supervise and coordinate the World Championships and other competitions for each of the nine sports it regulates.
Thanks to its classification system, athletes with similar disabilities compete together.
Athletes who participate in Paralympic sport are grouped into ten major categories, based on their type of disability:
Physical Impairment - There are eight different types of physical impairment:
- Impaired muscle power - With impairments in this category, the force generated by muscles, such as the muscles of one limb, one side of the body or the lower half of the body is reduced, e.g. due to spinal-cord injury, spina bifida or polio.
- Impaired passive range of movement - Range of movement in one or more joints is reduced in a systematic way. Acute conditions such as arthritis are not included.
- Loss of limb or limb deficiency - A total or partial absence of bones or joints from partial or total loss due to illness, trauma, or congenital limb deficiency (e.g. dysmelia).
- Leg-length difference - Significant bone shortening occurs in one leg due to congenital deficiency or trauma.
- Short stature - Standing height is reduced due to shortened legs, arms and trunk, which are due to a musculoskeletal deficit of bone or cartilage structures.
- Hypertonia - Hypertonia is marked by an abnormal increase in muscle tension and reduced ability of a muscle to stretch. Hypertonia may result from injury, disease, or conditions which involve damage to the central nervous system (e.g. cerebral palsy).
- Ataxia - Ataxia is an impairment that consists of a lack of coordination of muscle movements (e.g. cerebral palsy, Friedreich’s ataxia).
- Athetosis - Athetosis is generally characterized by unbalanced, involuntary movements and a difficulty maintaining a symmetrical posture (e.g. cerebral palsy, choreoathetosis).
At the national level, there are a wide range of organizations that take responsibility for Paralympic sport, including National Paralympic Committees, which are members of the IPC, and many others.
SASAPD (South African Sports Association for Physically Disabled)
SASAPD (South African Sports Association for Physically Disabled) was establishment in 1962. The focus of the organisation is to develop and promote the sporting codes offered at Paralympic level for athletes with physical disabilities, visual impairment and blindness.
They offer pathways through their affiliations with international bodies such as IBSA, IWAS and CPISRA and The Nedbank National Championships for Physically Disabled, as recognised steps towards Paralympic Games qualification across a variety of sports.
They work and are an affiliate member of SASCOC as well as being associated members of a number of other national sporting federations.
You can visit their web site at www.sasapd.org.za
The South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC)
The South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) is the National Olympic Committee (NOC) and National Paralympic Committee (NPC) for South Africa, and the responsible body for South Africa at the Commonwealth Games. It is also responsible for high-performance sport in the country and coordinates the relationship with various international sports federations.
Athletics, Swimming /Aquatics, Waterpolo, Archery, Badminton, Baseball, Basketball, Boxing, Canoeing, Cycling, Equestrian, Fencing, Football, Gymnastics, Handball, Hockey, Judo, Karate, Modern Pentathlon, Netball, Rowing, Rugby 7s, Sailing, Shooting, Table Tennis, Taekwondo, Tennis, Triathlon, Volleyball, Weightlifting, Wrestling are all governed by SASCOC in South Africa. They not only help look after all our various National Federations who are affiliated to them, but are responsible for the awarding for National Protea Colours to athletes who have met the criteria to represent South Africa in these different sporting codes, however these sports are available to all who wish to participate, but not all are available for the Mobility Impaired.
Types of Sport
Many disabled sports are based on existing able bodied sports, modified to meet the needs of persons with a disability, they are sometimes referred to as adapted sports. Not all disabled sports are adapted, several sports have been specifically created for persons with a disability & have no equivalent in able-bodied sports.
People with disabilities benefit from physical activity, and the barriers to being active are starting to come down. A wide variety of activities have been adapted so people of all abilities can participate. So go out and get active!
Below are a few Sports available. To view more information about these Sports and others, view the menu on the left.
Sports appropriate for my disability
Athletics & Swimming
South Africa has & is regularly represented in the Paralympic Games in both Athletics & Swimming. Both sports have a wide variety of disciplines, & a large spectrum of mobility impairments which can participate in these sports.Thanks to its classification system, athletes with similar disabilities compete together. This means that it's appropriate for people with spinal cord injuries (paraplegic & quadriplegic), amputees, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, orthopaedic injuries, arthritis, muscular dystrophy & other disability to compete together. Able-bodied people can only compete at a recreational level.
Both Athletics & Swimming in South African is governed by SASCOC " South Africa’s Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee." They not only help look after all our various National Federations who are affiliated to them, but are responsible for the awarding for National Protea Colours to athletes who have met the criteria to represent South Africa in these different sporting codes, however these sports are available to all who wish to participate.
Basketball & Quad Rugby are both sports which are played by individuals in teams in manual Wheelchairs, especially designed for that sport. Both Basketball & Quad Rugby are played with round netballs, on courts, which are especially mapped out to the specific sizes & dimensions that the sport requires. These sports are played at social, club & Provincial level, as well as at the Paralympic Games, where the classification process is used.
Boccia & Dance Sport
Both Boccia & Dance Sport can be enjoyed on a recreational and/or competitive basis. Competitions are organized locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally. They can both be enjoyed despite an individual having a serious Mobility Impairment & both sports are also competed in at the Paralympics Games.
Martial Arts & Fencing
Both Fencing & Martial Arts in the form of Judo are competed in at the Paralympic Games, where the classification process is used. Judo though is only available for the Blind. Martial Arts as a whole is however available to most individuals with Mobility Impairments in South Africa. Both sports are played at social, club & Provincial level, as well as at International level. Individuals in wheelchairs can take part in both Fencing & Martial Arts from a wheelchair, however others can compete. These sports are not only a source of fun, but great exercise, a challenge, teachers discipline, & is a great way to meet new people.
Golf & Bowls
Both Disabled Golf & Bowls are available to most individuals with Mobility Impairments in South Africa, including those in wheelchairs. The classification process is used to guarantee that no matter your disability, everyone can compete on an even footing. Both sports are played at social, club & Provincial level, as well as at International level.
Sailing & Surfing
Disabled Sailing & Surfing are both water sports that that have been adapted from their original sports & are open to athletes with a wide variety of types & degrees of disabilities. Athletes receive classifications, so that they can be grouped for competition purposes according to their impairment. Both sports are enjoyed at social, club & Provincial level, as well as at International level. Both these sports can be participated in on equal terms.
Both Scuba Diving & Cricket are activities or sports that can still be enjoyed even if you have a Mobility Impairment, this includes persons who use wheelchairs. Both sports have been adapted and are available in clubs in South Africa, but they are not currently part of the Paralympics.
Tennis & Table Tennis are both sports that have been adapted from their original sports. Both sports can be played by people with nearly every disability & allows both sportsman who use wheelchairs & those who don't, to participate. Athletes receive classifications, so that they can be grouped for competition purposes according to their impairment. Both sports are played at social, club & Provincial level, as well as at International level.
Wheelchair Racing & Cycling
Wheelchair Racing & Cycling are both track or road events in athletics. They are both open to athletes with a variety of types & degrees of disabilities. For those would be cyclists, whose mobility impairment prevents them from using their legs, handcycling is available. Athletes are classified in accordance with the nature & severity of their disability or combinations of disabilities. Competitors compete in specialized wheelchairs/handcycles. Both sports are competed in at social, club & Provincial level, as well as at International level.
Please send us information on any other sport.