No stopping Bfn paratriathlon athlete

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A self-motivated and goal-orientated paralympic athlete from Bloemfontein has his sights set on becoming one of the best para-triathlon athletes in the world.

Eleven years ago, Anton Swanepoel was involved in a horrible car accident. After having his right leg amputated, he was forced to shift his attention to different sporting codes.

Before the accident, the former Martie du Plessis learner was a very good able-bodied athlete. He took part in rowing and running marathons. Determined not to let the accident dampen his spirit, he went on to break various swimming and cycling records.

He started participating in para-triathlon in 2013. This sport will be presented at the Rio 2016 Paralympics in Brazil. From the get-go, he participated in the South African Triathlon Championship and was classed into the PT 1 Class. He won the event and was selected to go to London, but could unfortunately not take part due to a classification problem.

In February, Anton took part in the Triathlon South African Championship in East London. He won the PT 1 Class, breaking his own South African record with a time of 10.51 minutes. He was then selected to take part and represent South Africa at the East London International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Paratriathlon Event. He came third, bettering his time with 3.25 minutes.

Anton was also on the ITU Grand Final starting list for the Paratriathlon Elite Men. He was the only para-triathlete from South Africa to take part in the Elite Event in the build up to Rio 2016. Due to a technical problem he could not complete the race.

"I think a successful para-triathlon athlete needs to have a lot of determination. I've been through some tough times, like not making it in London for instance, but you just have to push on. Luckily I have a very good structure in place," says Swanepoel.

He is currently training at the Free State Sports Science Institute under the coaching of Jan Wahl. His training regime comprises conditioning, skills and mental preparation. 

From left to right: Reinette Olivier ( Sponsor – Itec),  Elshe van der Westhuizen ( Itec ), Jan Wahl (Coach), Morten Ridgard (Conditioning coach),  Celesti Jansen van Rensburg (FSSSI) and Jan Earle (Popor Consulting). 

"We do a lot of power work that includes racing, swimming and gym workout. The focus is also on making use of my arms for the three disciplines of paratriathlon," concludes Swanepoel.

If the determined Swanepoel is not practising or participating in events, he enjoys fishing and spending time with family and friends over weekends. For now his main goal is to qualify for the Paralympics, which will be a dream come true. – Mark Steenbok

mark@centralmediagroup.co.za