Handisports - Hats off to Seychelles’ handisports athletes |26 July 2019
As the Seychelles’ medal count at the 10th Indian Ocean Islands Games keeps increasing, we should not neglect the effort and contribution of a special group of athletes, who despite no big publicity and not receiving international fancy training camps have managed to make the country proud.
Despite the difference in their ability, they have managed to raise the blue, yellow, red, white and green flag of Seychelles to the highest end of the pole, thus allowing ‘Koste Seselwa’ to echo at the Games in Mauritius.
Yes, we are talking about our handisports athletes who have contributed six medals to the country’s tally, including one gold, one silver and five bronze.
Team Seychelles’ handisports gold medal came courtesy of swimmer Stephanie Mondon in the 50m freestyle, where she clocked 43.44 seconds. In fact she successfully defended her title won for the first time in Reunion in 2015.
Overwhelmed by emotions, Mondon dedicated her gold medal, firstly to the Almighty God who she said listened to her prayers, and also to her family, friends and coaches who have supported her all throughout her journey leading up to the Games.
The silver medal was from Richard Sophola in shot put after finishing second with a throw of 8.14 metres.
Still in track and field athletics, Team Seychelles won four bronze medals, boosting the country’s position on the medals standings.
Michael Andrew won two, while Odile Felix and Debra Dogley won one bronze each.
Andrew’s first medal came on the first day of the competition in the 100m where he clocked 12.79 seconds, finishing third behind Wilson Turpin of Reunion who was second in 12.56 seconds and Eddy Capdor of Mauritius who finished first in 11.80 seconds.
His second medal was in the long jump event where he leaped 5.38 metres.
Seychelles’ fourth medal in handisports came from Debra Dogley in the 200m for the deaf.
Dogley finished third in 33.18 seconds to win the bronze, finishing behind Malagasy Nancy Andrianarindra who was second in 29.75. Shleysha Lokheeram of Mauritius was the race winner and gold medal winner in 29.48 seconds.
Janil Lucas won a bronze medal in the handisports 50m freestyle in a time of 55.03 seconds.
Speaking on the achievements of the special athletes, Vincent Cedras, who is leading the delegation, said the good performance is proof that despite their differences, the athletes have the ability to represent the country and even achieve positive results.
Mr Cedras added that the exploit of the athletes at the 10th Games should serve as inspiration for the entire disable community, as well as a wake-up call for all parents with a disable child to allow them to use the various available opportunities to develop their talents.
He added that, other than local opportunities, the disabled will also have the chance to travel and see the world, while making new friends.
He is urging all the parents to get in contact with Special Olympics Seychelles which will cater for their children like a big family.
At regional level, Mr Cedras said the Indian Ocean countries have set up three associations which will cater for the athletes, giving them the chance to show their talents at both continental and world level.
The first association that has been set up is the Coopération Spéciale Olympique Spécial de L’Océan Indien (CSOSOI) which will be responsible to organise a yearly Special Games, with each country taking turns to host.
The second association – International Sports Federation for Persons with Intellectual Disability (INAS) – will be responsible to cater for special athletes who fall into the elite category.
These are disabled athletes with exceptional talents who can even compete alongside normal athletes.
With the two newly set-up associations, Mr Cedras said the future ahead for handisports is quite bright, but it will all depend on the cooperation and devotion of parents in allowing their disabled children to be exposed to the available opportunities.
Meanwhile, our athletes will be in action today at the Germain Commarmond Stadium in Bambous in the 15,000m wheelchair race.
Roland Duval in Mauritius