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29 Sep, 2015

Palesa determined to complete her first Tsogo Sun Amashova!

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Palesa Manaleng on her hand-cycle

“This will be my first Amashova ever,” says, Palesa Manaleng, a 28-year-old Westdene resident, who will be taking on the Tsogo Sun Amashova Durban Classic 106 kilometre on Sunday, 18 October, 2015.

Palesa, who is paraplegic, will be cycling amongst able-bodied cyclists, using her hand cycle which she has come to master in just five months since an accident, which left her with the inability to control movement and sensation from the waist down.

“I had been cycling for roughly nine months before my accident which occurred on 10 September, 2014 – just over a year ago. I took my bike for a ride around the block; I was just stretching my legs because I had gone for a jog earlier that morning. I went down a very steep road and the bike gained speed. I tried to brake or at least slow down but my brakes failed. It was then that I slammed into the pavement at high speed and hit the University of Johannesburg’s rugby stadium palisade wall at full force. I dislocated my spine, broke two ribs, one of the ribs punctured my lung and I sustained a head injury and all the while, I was fully conscious,” she explained.

Palesa spent three days in the emergency room with doctors stabilising her before they could operate and is now a paraplegic, with an injury level of T9/10.

Despite her near-fatal accident and disability, Palesa has kept in high spirits and was determined to continue being athletic. Since her accident, she has completed three races as well as participated in a paraplegic World Cup event.

“My first race was the 45 kilometre Powerade Cycle Race, then I rode the 64 kilometres of The Vortex Cycle Challenge, before participating in the Meals on Wheels race which was 90 kilometres,” she added.

Palesa also recently participated in the Para-cycling road UCI World Cup, where she participated in a 44 kilometre road race and completed her first time trial, which she claimed was the toughest race she had ever completed.

“To be able to compete against World Champions and other athletes who have taken part in the Paralympics makes me push myself even harder and work towards having them chase me in a race,” she added.

For her, sports are a great way to meet people and learn from others that have been through something similar.

Palesa, who is a heroine in her own right, says that it was not only the belief in herself that made her persevere so soon after her accident, but the fact that she has a great team that helps her.

“I am so grateful to Harford Sports Promotions, Tintswalo Group Properties and Primedia who are responsible for providing me with my own hand-cycle and for making sure I always have someone to help me to my races and practice sessions. This support really helps me achieve my goals” she said.

She advises others to also keep persevering, “Don’t let your wheelchair or disability bring you down or stop you from doing the things you did before. It just means you have to work 10 times harder,” she added.

The Tsogo Sun Amashova Durban Classic 106 kilometres starts at 07:00 from the Pietermaritzburg City Hall, with the 65 kilometre Half Challenge starting from Drew Lane in Cato Ridge and the 35 kilometre Fun Ride from Old Main Road, Lillies Quarter in Hillcrest starting at 05:30.

All races are supported by full road closures and will end at the exciting new finish, in Masabalala Yengwa Avenue (NMR Avenue).

For more information visit www.shova.co.za. See you at the start!