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Tarina’s task is a classy one at 2012 Paralympics

By Mark Etheridge in London

Team SA at the 2012 Paralympics has many a classy performer in it’s ranks… Oscar Pistorius and Natalie du Toit being two of the stand-outs.

But there’s also a class act that often goes unsung and unheralded, away from the media spotlight.

Meet Tarina van der Stockt, official classification official for South Africa at the Games. Pretoria based Van der Stockt is first and foremost a physiotherapist ÔÇô but for the paralympics she’s officially assigned as classifier and doubles up as physio.

Paralympic athletes are classified according to their disabilities with T standing for Track and F for field, S for swimming etc. This is followed by a numerical ranking, generally getting higher the less serious the disability, although this may differ with different sporting codes.

Part of Van der Stockt’s job is to accompany our para-athletes to classification where the level of classification for our para-athletes is assessed.

Van der Stockt qualified as a physio in 2005 and first started classification two years later. “I started out classification at regional level after working with amputees at my practice and just wanted to learn more about it.

“Provincially there are about two or three classification days a year and then to get to national level you obviously have to attend Nationals every year and then meet a whole lot more criteria.”

She qualified as a national classifier in 2009 and currently she’s an international classifier for adaptive rowing, of which there is one SA representative in London ÔÇô Sandra Khumalo.

At these Paralympics her job is to attend any international classification for Team SA’s athletes. “Currently we have five athletes that are all classed as R for Review. They are athletes Johanna Pretorius and Union Sekailwe, swimmer Marike Naude and then two wheelchair basketballers, Kyle Louw and Luvo Mbande.

“Normally when athletes attend their first international competition they are given an N for New grading, then like our five current athletes (R for Review). The rest of our team here are classified as C for Confirmed.”

And Van der Stockt says its a fascinating job. “You get to really love it. You learn about so many different disabilities. You learn about them at varsity but never get to see them. Some of the more ‘interesting’ disabilities I’ve come across are post-polio complications, and brittle bone disease… it’s a continuous learning curve for me.”

Most of the 62-strong squad of competitors in Team SA will agree. She’s a class act to follow…


2 comments
Roger
Roger

Please, please, please! do not use the term "para-athlete" because that creates the impression these people are something less than "real" athletes. They are fully legitimate elite athletes - among the best in the world. Don't let a word reduce their status.

Mark Etheridge
Mark Etheridge

Hi Roger, I agree wholeheartedly .. in fact I would say they are something "more" than that! It's just that we have been been doing in that way for years now to just make the distinction between Olympics and Paralympics but when push comes to shove they are certainly equal :-)