The Vhembe region and Louis Trichardt in particular hosted three Paralympians the past weekend as part of a special school visit organised by the IsAbility Sports Club. Pictured from left to right are Paralympians Claus Kempen (running guide), Louzanne Coetzee and Sheryl James. Photo supplied.
Date: 19 May 2022 By:
One of the country’s Tokyo 2020 Paralympic silver and bronze medallists, Louzanne Coetzee, visited Louis Trichardt the past weekend, courtesy of the IsAbility Sports Club Limpopo.
Louzanne is a visually impaired athlete (totally blind) and currently on the SASCOC commission as the SASCOC athletes’ representative. The purpose of her visit was to enhance awareness of the opportunities for visually impaired athletes, as well as able-bodied athletes who can train to become guide runners.
Louzanne and her running guide Claus Kempen spent three days in the region visiting the Rivoni School for the Blind, the Tshilidzini Special School and Emmanuel Christian School for talks and presentations. Then, on Saturday, they held an amazing development session at Laerskool Louis Trichardt, which was attended by about 70 visually impaired children from, among others, Rivoni, Tshilidzini, Siloe School for the Blind, Setotolwane School and Bosele School for the Blind.
“It is not often a school has a visit from three Paralympians in one shot. Claus was the guide runner who ran for silver with Louzanne in the marathon in Tokyo,” said Sandy James of the IsAbility Sports Club. Also present the day was Sheryl James, Tokyo Paralympics bronze medallist.
Several district athletics officials were also present at the sessions to appreciate Louzanne's visit. “But the most wonderful part was the reception and enthusiasm of the children. Saturday was a life-changing experience for many of them. To find the courage to just throw caution to the wind and run as fast as the wind with a guide, even when you cannot see where you are going!” said Sandy.
Sandy thanked all the schools for receiving them so well. They also thanked all the volunteers: Emmanuel School for their staff and learners who assisted on Saturday and Laerskool Louis Trichardt for making their facilities available to them for the practical part on Saturday. “We also appreciate the Vhembe Department of Sport Art and Culture for catering for the children and officials. Louzanne and Claus were so expressive of their awe for this lovely area that we are privileged to live in and for the friendly people in Vhembe and Limpopo. They are definitely coming back for another visit. They laid a foundation for development of visually impaired athletes that we believe is certainly going to be fruitful in the future,” said Sandy.