Wheelchair gold medalist aims for Olympics

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Pretoria - After scooping a gold medal at the Asia Pacific Youth Para Games, 18-year old Evans Maripa, has set his sights on the 2012 Olympic Games.

Maripa, from Soshanguve in Pretoria, was one of about 800 athletes from 20 countries to compete in the recent games held in Tokyo. The tournament aimed to encourage the development of sport for physically disabled athletes.

Maripa's win has earned him the prestige of being one of the top youth in the world and his performance in the Open Men's Division in International events also placed him at number 120 in the men's world rankings.

Maripa believes that talent is not enough to win, and that it was also his great attitude, passion and desire to represent his country that earned him the medal.

His dream is to play wheelchair tennis professionally and it looks like he is poised to do just that.

"I want to be the best wheelchair tennis player that I can be. I promise, I am going to make it," said an optimistic Maripa.

Being born with a congenital birth defect left Maripa physically challenged and not even a double amputee from an early age.

Spokesperson for Wheelchair Tennis South Africa, Holger Losch said Maripa was fast becoming one of the country's most promising young players and great achievements were on the horizon.

"He has only been playing for three and a half years and with the right coaching we are sure that he will quickly reach the top of the global tennis ladder.

"Maripa has all the ingredients required to be an Olympic champion, his tenacity of spirit, strength and courage will lead him to realise his full potential," said Losch.

His persistence and positive outlook have him achieving physical feats that many individuals can only dream of, Losch said.