6 3 mins
All Over The Bar Shouting

Five years ago, author Emily Rapp Black, who had had her leg amputated when she was four because she had been born with a congenital defect, wrote that she knew when the Paralympics were taking place because all her able-bodied friends would be at pains to tell her it was taking place.

“Although Paralympians are getting the attention they have long deserved – more media coverage; more professional sponsorship and endorsements – the tenor of the conversation about these athletes and about disabled bodies in general makes it clear that they are misunderstood by most of the world and, save for this brief period, largely unseen,” wrote Black for the New York Times during the Rio Games. “It seems that, temporarily, able-bodied people make a virtue of their sudden awareness of disabled athletes. Truth is, we’ve been here all along.”

 It is a truism and a spotlight on the fault lines of the difference between the reporting and embrace with which the disabled and disabled sport receive, and which is  afforded to able-bodied sport. And, for the next two weeks, from August 25 until the Games close on Sunday,  September 4, South African and the world should take the time and show the nous to balance how the approach the 15 percent of the globe that are differently abled.

It is the balance between the high level of sporting excellence and the message, the celebration of brilliance and the awareness of a greater purpose. It is the true realisation of the soul of sport, the ideals we…

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9 [post-views]view 4 mins
Picture: courtesy Rip Curl
All Over The Bar Shouting
News Jul 27, 2021

By Kieran Pender

In Tokyo

After winning the first ever Olympic medal awarded in the history of surfing, Australia’s Owen Wright said he felt like he was “walking on a cloud”.

Five and a half years ago, he couldn’t even walk.

The 31-year-old’s bronze medal, secured after defeating two-time World Surf League (WSL) champion Gabriel Medina of Brazil in stormy seas at Tsurigasaki beach, is a historic triumph. But Wright’s Olympic success is all the more remarkable given what he has had to endure.

In December 2015, the Australian surfer – born and bred on the New South Wales South Coast – was free-surfing at a notorious Hawaiian break, Pipeline, ahead of the end-of-season finale. Wright flew to Hawaii in contention to win the WSL title, after claiming victory earlier in the season at the Fiji Pro. He was in good form: in Fiji, Wright had claimed two perfect 20-point heats (surfers are scored out of 10 by a judging panel, with the best two waves counting). Only a handful of surfers have ever surfed a perfect heat, let alone two.

But suddenly, in a split second, Wright’s world – and his title hopes – came crashing down. When Wright took off at Pipeline that day on a 15ft wave, it was nothing out of the ordinary – the surfer deals with waves of consequence every day. Only that day, something went wrong. Wright came crashing down suffering a traumatic brain injury – with bleeding and a concussion.

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“Hello? Yes, it is. You have the right person. No, there is no code word. If you want wine, you just ask for wine. Or spirits. Hang on, I’ll WhatsApp you the price list and you tell me what you want.”

A conversation on a brisk Joburg afternoon between a bootlegger and a customer has become the new normal for many South Africans. Someone who knows someone who knows someone else who has a ready supply of alcohol. There are so many of those someone’s-someone around Joburg that it has become de rigueur to talk about “my booze guy” in company. If you bill it, they will come.

“Bobby Slo” (er, not his real name) is an urban bootlegger. He lives in a nice house in an upmarket suburb with his wife, who has a good job, and kids, who don’t. He drives a Japanese station wagon, has two dogs, but no work. He is in the entertainment industry, which has been decimated since the pandemic was first a whisper, before the storm set in and the world imploded itself to stop the virus exploding.

He has worked sporadically since January, bits and pieces, on and off. It hasn’t covered his bills. His credit cards are maxed out. He has debt. He has angst and worry. He is lucky as his wife has been able to carry the family through the lockdown. He wonders if anything will ever be the same again.

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WEEKLY EDITORIAL

Five years ago, author Emily Rapp Black, who had had her leg amputated when she was four because she had been born with a congenital defect, wrote that she knew when the Paralympics were taking place because all her able-bodied friends would be at pains to tell her it was taking place.

“Although Paralympians are getting the attention they have long deserved – more media coverage; more professional sponsorship and endorsements – the tenor of the conversation about these athletes and about disabled bodies in general makes it clear that they are misunderstood by most of the world and, save for this brief period, largely unseen,” wrote Black for the New York Times during the Rio Games. “It seems that, temporarily, able-bodied people make a virtue of their sudden awareness of disabled athletes. Truth is, we’ve been here all along.”

 It is a truism and a spotlight on the fault lines of the difference between the reporting and embrace with which the disabled and disabled sport receive, and which is  afforded to able-bodied sport. And, for the next two weeks, from August 25 until the Games close on Sunday,  September 4, South African and the world should take the time and show the nous to balance how the approach the 15 percent of the globe that are differently abled.

It is the balance between the high level of sporting excellence and the message, the celebration of brilliance and the awareness of a greater purpose. It is…