Franco Botha, a Grade 7 learner at Louis Trichardt Laerskool, who received the Isability Sports Club's prestigious Limpopo Junior Sportsman of the Year Award. Photo supplied.
This year, the Isability Sports Club's prestigious Limpopo Junior Sportsman of the Year Award was bestowed upon local scholar Franco Botha, a Grade 7 learner at Louis Trichardt Laerskool.
Franco embarked on his para-athletic journey this year under the F44 classification, swiftly demonstrating his commitment and potential. The criteria considered for Franco's award encompassed achievements at provincial and national level, record-breaking performances (particularly South African, African, or World records), and the potential for international success.
Franco stood out among Limpopo's juniors because of his outstanding performance at the 2023 SASAPD national championships in Cape Town in March this year. He set two new South African records: throwing a remarkable 20.15m in the boys U/14 discus (earning a gold medal) and achieving a new South African record of 3.80m in the long jump (also securing a gold medal). Additionally, at the Limpopo provincial championships in Polokwane in September, he clinched gold in discus and long jump, unofficially setting a record of 4.446m in the latter event. Franco's stellar performance in the provincial championships qualified him to represent Limpopo Province at the 2024 national championships.
Similar to the previous year's recipient, Ishmael Nkuna, Franco's award included a monetary sum of R2,000. Given his promising performance, Franco has been granted the opportunity to participate in the Dubai Para-athletic Grand Prix in February 2024. This event holds immense significance as it provides athletes with the chance to have their classification verified on an international platform, paving the way for potential future international competitions. As Franco's family will be funding his trip, local businesses and individuals keen on investing in local talent have an opportunity to contribute towards his international debut. Those interested can contact his parents (Theuns and Liezl Botha) for further details.
Sandy James of the Isability Sports Club Limpopo addressed a common misunderstanding about the term "Para-sport", emphasising that "Para" does not denote any form of "disability" or paraplegia but instead signifies "parallel to". She explained that the term "Paralympics" refers to a sport that occurs parallel to the Olympics, requiring an equal amount of dedication, commitment, and hard work for para-athletes to excel at provincial, national, and international level, as it does for athletes in any other sporting discipline.
On behalf of the Isability community, James extended heartfelt congratulations to Franco for his determination, commitment, and hard work that earned him the accolade of Junior Sportsman of the Year 2023.
Sport - Date: 17 November 2023