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Deur Benescke Janse van Rensburg

Op 27 Januarie vanjaar het duisende atlete in Port Elizabeth vir die jaarlikse 70.3 Ysterman-kompetisie aangemeld. Tussen hulle was Cornel Botha en David Jones. Wat dié twee atlete se storie uniek maak, is dat David vir Cornel volkome moes vertrou om hom te begelei deur die 1,9km-seeswem, 90km-fietsry en 21,1km-draf wat in die kompetisie voorgelê het. David het weens ’n oorerflike oog-kondisie blind geraak en Cornel was sy gids vir die kompetisie.

Die twee mans, beide rekenaarprogrameerders van Kaapstad, het mekaar in 2018 ontmoet en vir nege maande vir die kompetisie voorberei. Cornel se ervaring, uit die vier 70.3-ystermankompetisies wat hy reeds in die verlede voltooi het, het verseker in die voorbereiding gehelp. Vir die swembeen van die kompetisie is die twee mans met ’n rekbare tou aan die enkels verbind – wat vibreer sodra David te vêr van Cornel af swem, sodat hy sy koers kan aanpas. Met die fietsry het die twee mans ’n tandemfiets gedeel. En vir die hardloop is hulle aan die pols met ’n nie-rekbare tou verbind. Cornel se rol is om regdeur die kompetisie baie te praat. Buiten dat hy vir David moet voorberei op wat voorlê en waarsku van ongelyke grond, moet hy ook die horlosie dophou om te verseker dat hulle nie te vinnig of stadig vorder nie.

In my onderhoud met die mans, wou ek weet hoekom Cornel besluit het op dié onselfsugtige daad. Hy het geantwoord: “Ek hou daarvan om mense te help om hul doelwitte in die lewe te bereik. Hierdie is een só geleentheid.” Dit is nie die eerste keer dat Cornel dit gedoen het nie. In die verlede het hy saam met sy gestremde seun, Neil, die Kaapstad Fietstoer (110km) op ’n tandem-fiets voltooi as ’n bewys aan sy seun dat niks onmoontlik is nie.

Ons as gelowiges het ook ’n Gids wat ons elke dag wil lei. Sy naam is die Heilige Gees. Hy wil ons voorberei op ongelyke paaie wat voorlê en terugtrek sodra ons koers verloor. In Johannes 14:16,26 het Jesus sy dissipels voorberei op die koms van die Heilige Gees: “Ek sal die Vader vra, en Hy sal vir julle ‘n ander Voorspraak stuur om vir ewig by julle te wees, naamlik die Gees van die waarheid. . . wanneer die Vader in my Naam die Voorspraak, die Heilige Gees, stuur, sal Hy julle alles leer en julle herinner aan alles wat Ek vir julle gesê het.” Ook in In Titus 3:6 lees ons: “God het die Heilige Gees oorvloedig op ons uitgestort deur Jesus Christus ons Verlosser.” En in Romeine 8:26 staan geskryf: “Die Gees staan ons ook in ons swakheid by: ons weet nie wat en hoe ons behoort te bid nie, maar die Gees self pleit vir ons met versugtinge wat nie met woorde gesê word nie.”

Net soos Cornel vir David deur die kompetisie moes begelei, wil die Heilige Gees as daagliks deur ons dag begelei. Hy is ons Trooster en Leidsman. Hy help ons ook bid wanneer ons nie meer woorde het nie. Ken jy sy stem? Indien nie, is dit nie dalk tyd om God te vra om jou opnuut met sy Gees te vul sodat ons gehoorsaam kan wees as Hy ons waarsku of terugtrek as ons die regte koers verloor het? Die Heilige Gees is immers die grootste geskenk wat Jesus na sy Hemelvaart vir ons nagelaat het! Sterkte.

Vader God, baie dankie dat U my lei deur u Heilige Gees. Help my asseblief om U stem duideliker te hoor – en ook vinniger te reageer as U my in ’n rigting lei. Ek vra dit in die Naam van Jesus Christus. Amen.

 

Nog ‘n foto saam met die blinde atleet, David Jones.

Hier is Cornel saam met sy twee seuns, Neil en Louis.

Cornel, saam met sy gestremde seun, Neil op die fiets tydens die Kaapstad Fietstoer.

The story of Neil the cyclist (by Cornel Botha)

Who is Neil?

When you meet Neil at first you would think there is very little wrong with this 16-year-old young man, but when you start talking to him and there is only silence and there is no eye contact, then you start realizing that all is not well.  At the age of 4 months, Neil was diagnosed with a very rare genetic illness called Tuberous Sclerosis Complex. Neil has hundreds of non-cancerous tumors inside his brain, which affect different parts of his body and mind. Neil is severely mentally handicapped, has no speech, is autistic and is epileptic which make life a major challenge for him.

So why get Neil to cycle?

Neil can sit happily in a car for hours when you drive around, but he needed something to stimulate him physically to build muscle and develop lung capacity as he is very underdeveloped in these areas. Being a cyclist myself I decided that cycling will stimulate most of Neil’s senses. He will see things, hear things, feel the wind and vibrations of the road, smell the air and lastly taste victory in life. Being a tandem cyclist made all this possible but not easy at all.

So how did Neil get to cycle?

We started with Neil on a tandem bicycle on an indoor trainer. At first, I had to help him pedal by moving his legs with my hands from behind the bicycle. When Neil made enough progress, I started to get on the tandem with him and after about six months we were ready for our first outdoor cycle. It was one of the most stressful moments in my life. First, somebody will hold the tandem upright and then Neil will get onto the saddle with help from me and then I will clip his feet in the pedals and then I jump on and then it is one, two, three, here we go.

That first couple of meters were a very small achievement, but one of the biggest achievements in Neil’s life, and his facial expression was priceless! We increased the distances gradually and after 5 years Neil is ready for his first Cape Town Cycle Tour in March 2018.

Difficulties and challenges, we had (still have) to overcome.

At first when going for rides longer than 30 kilometers, we had to get a safety car to drive behind us. In some instances, Neil had to get off to get in the car as you can push him only so far…

Neil cannot communicate at all, so when he starts make moaning noises, I have to go through a list of things in my mind, to eliminate all possible issues before we get to the assumption that he is just tired.

I have to decide when Neil needs to drink. We need to stop, clip out, feed Neil the drinks or food and then only we start again.

I have my guardian angels (brother Louis and Tannie Anneke) riding behind us and keeping an eye on Neil checking that his hands are always on the handle bar as Neil like to clap his hands when he is happy, and this was a major challenge to overcome at first.

Autistic children are very unpredictable and we must deal with the challenges we face as they come around.

Challenges we face on Cape Town Cycle Tour day.

The start is a major challenge. Neil will not be able to stand for an hour in a starting chute. I hope to arrange with the organisers that Neil can just slot in before our group start.

Neil can only stay on the saddle for so long, so we will have to build in a stop somewhere along the route.

Will we get over Chappies and Suikerbossie? We have done both hills with fresh legs, to see whether we can do it, and I am happy to say we did it, but with 75km’s in the legs it is going to be a challenge for us on a tandem, I suppose time will tell.

35 000 Cyclists? I hope all the action and people will not be too much for Neil on the day.

Lessons learned through this journey.

  • Stop complaining about your children and be thankful for everything your child can do.
  • Spend time with your children, money can buy baby sitters, TV games, chocolates, all your child wants is your time.
  • Do not favor one child more than the other. They all are equal, never mind their abilities.
  • With a little bit of patience, you can achieve a lot.
  • Giving is better that receiving.
  • Set a realistic goal and then work towards it. You might have a couple of setbacks along the way, but never give up and never give in, never mind how long it takes to get there.
  • When your dreams that you had for your life become unachievable due to unforeseen circumstances, do not give up on life, start dreaming new dreams and work towards them.