The Free State Sports Association for the Physically Disabled (FSSAPD) awards function was recently held in Bloemfontein and recognition was given to several people who contributed to the success of sport for the physically disabled in the province.

School children were not left behind and looking back at their performances, the Free State must rank as one of the top provinces as far as sports for the disabled among school children in South Africa are concerned.

As a matter of fact, the most prestigious award for the year (July 2014 to July 2015), the FSSAPD sports star of the year went to a schoolgirl from the City of Roses.

The hardworking and dedicated, Juanelie Meijer (Fichardtpark High School) was awarded this prestigious accolade, and rightly so.

Meijer, who participates in the T-38 disability category, represented South Africa at the Commonwealth Games in 2014 in the long jump an narrowly missed out on the bronze medal. Take note, this was the senior Commonwealth Games and Meijer is still a junior athlete.

At the mentioned Commonwealth Games, she improved the South African and African record to a magnificent 4,21 m.

At the South African championships earlier this year, Meijer scored the distinction of winning gold in her category in the long jump, 100 m and 200 m. Even better, she qualified for the world championships to be staged in October in Dubai in all three these events.

In the junior female sports star of the year category, two learners from Martie du Plessis, Joelene Kuhn (para-cycling) and Livelle Peterson, the crackerjack boccia player, were nominated for the award. The award eventually went to Kuhn who won her 20th gold medal since 2011 at the national para-cycling championships.

Peterson did not leave empty handed and received the award for personality of the year.

It took some serious thinking to decide the winner of the junior male sports star of the year as no less than six contenders were in the running.

Thato Mphutlane (Martie du Plessis, athletics), Jaeden Gouws (Martie du Plessis, para-cycling), Tladi Tau (Martie du Plessis, para-cycling), Nielbert Mostert (Willem Postma, para-cycling), Nicolas van Rensburg (Willem Postma, para-cycling guide) and the hotshot athlete, Obed Lekehle from Hendrik Potgieter School in Reddersburg made their claim for the award with excellent performances.

The award went to last mentioned (Lekehle) who is a new cap in the sport for the disabled. He won the South African championships in his category in the high jump event in a new South African record and pocketed a bronze medal in the long jump, as well.

PHOTO ABOVE: Livelle Peterson (Martie du Plessis) receives the personality of the year award from Lucky Tsatsane of the Free State Sports Association for the Physically Disabled (FSSAPD). Petersen is a new cap boccia player and was part of the Free State team who won the national title in this sports dissipline for athletes with physical disabilities.