Four Medals
Photo Credit: Team South Africa

The first African Para Games’ Champions in Wheelchair Tennis are South Africans Alwande Sikhosana and Leon Els! They are back on home soil with four medals, a ticket to the Paris Paralympics for Sikhosana and a bond that’s the epitome of good sportsmanship.

 

South Africa (21 September 2023) — Alwande Sikhosana and Leon Els have rightfully been in the spotlight over the past few weeks thanks to their stellar slams at the African Para Games in Ghana as the first winners of this event, earning gold for their Doubles performance. Now, the golden lads have returned home with four medals, a great story to tell and a bond to be inspired by.

The wheelchair tennis stars played both as a team and then against each other at the Games. Their skills took them both to the finals where Sikhosana earned his crown as the African Para Champion as well as a spot in the Paris 2024 Olympics. 

Despite the competition that pinned the pair against each other, the two sing each others’ praises both for their skills and for the humans behind the rackets:

“Leon made it so easy for me to be myself,” Sikhosana said of his teammate and competition. 

“As tennis players we play each other, make friends on tour, get used to tour life. On court we fight hard, but it’s what’s happening on court to off it…

“Part of our sport is to be glad for the other guy. It took me five minutes to get over the disappointment and then I was happy for Alwande,” shared Els.

Although their circumstances leading to wheelchair tennis differ (Sikhosana has been playing wheelchair tennis since he was in Grade 4 while Els endured a bus accident at 18 and only started the sport at 19), they both highlight the positives beyond the wins.

For Sikhosana, the moment he followed a teacher to wheelchair tennis practice because he wanted to avoid doing homework, sparked a sporting trajectory he could never have imagined.

“Today I’m grateful for the opportunities I have been given, and I am where I am because of things going wrong back then. It’s a blessing in disguise; it was obviously meant to be for me and this is my purpose in life,” he shared with Team SA.

He is the number 1 ranked player on the continent.

For Els, the sport beyond podiums is also an incredible way to keep healthy and avoid deterioration in the body, which can happen quickly for wheelchair users.

Moreover, the opportunity to play in the first ever edition of the African Para Games (and winning it) is testament to the growing dedication to Para sports, and South Africa couldn’t be prouder to be part of the progress!

Sikhosana will head to the Paris Paralympics next year while Els still has the chance to qualify.


Sources: Team SA
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About the Author

Ashleigh Nefdt is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Ashleigh's favourite stories have always seen the hidden hero (without the cape) come to the rescue. As a journalist, her labour of love is finding those everyday heroes and spotlighting their spark - especially those empowering women, social upliftment movers, sustainability shakers and creatives with hearts of gold. When she's not working on a story, she's dedicated to her canvas or appreciating Mother Nature.

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