A Vanguard Estate teen has been chosen to represent South Africa at a world athletics tournament in Switzerland, but he needs help getting there.
Joshua van Staden, an 18-year-old matric pupil at Vista Nova High School in Pinelands, has been selected for the SA junior para athletics team to compete in the World Para Athletics Junior Championships in Nottwil, in July. But he needs to raise R45 000 to pay for his trip overseas.
He qualified at the SA Sports Association for the Physically Disabled (SASAPD) games in Stellenbosch in March, breaking personal-best records in javelin, shot put and discus.
Joshua, who lives with his mother, Rachelle Petersen, in Vanguard Estate, was born with dwarfism and has been interested in paralympic sports from a young age.
Vista Nova High deputy principal Glen Birtles said Joshua had been at the school from Grade R.
“We are proud of Joshua. He takes his school sports seriously, though he has always worked well academically. His achievements in the past two to three years helped him grow as a person.”
At the SASAPD games in Bloemfontein last year, Joshua won gold in the discus, shot put and javelin, establishing new South African records.
Joshua said one of his biggest challenges growing up had been accepting himself for who he is.
“It was a hard thing especially in today’s society – if you are different you are not equal.
“I am proud of myself because I am going places and I will still go to more places,” he said.
Daniel Damon, a javelin coach at Matie ParaSport, said it was a big achievement for any athlete to be selected for an international para tournament.
“We help junior athletics find opportunities to compete at a high level, and Joshua is one of the athletes to come through the system, and he has a bright future in para sports,” he said.
Ms Petersen is a single parent who works a full-time job but still finds time to take her son to Stellenbosch on Tuesdays and Thursdays to train with his coaches.
“I am excited and really proud of him. He has come a long way. I gave him some encouragement to participate in his first Western Province trials. Sometimes we as parents need to nudge and push our children.”
Joshua said he would like to study sport psychology, with the focus on para sport.
Ms Petersen has set up a BackaBuddy account, and she is appealing to the public to help Joshua get to Switzerland.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org, call 084 294 0098 or visit www.backabuddy.co.za/joshua-van-staden to help.