Ave tips tennis ace Sithole for accolade

Global wheelchair tennis ace Lucas Sithole. Picture credits: Gallo Images
Global wheelchair tennis ace Lucas Sithole. Picture credits: Gallo Images

Andre Dalle Ave may be favourite to win the disabled sportsman of the year award at Mogale City on Sunday.

But the athlete has tipped his competitor, global wheelchair tennis ace Lucas Sithole for the accolade.

"It feels great to be nominated alongside Lucas and Pieter du Preez. To be honest, Lucas will take the award because he has done a lot this year," said the T31 long jumper yesterday. "Being nominated is victory for me but you may never know. Let us wait and see."

Ave coaches children part-time in Randpark Ridge on the West Rand. What he enjoys most about being an athlete is the honour in representing his country. His ultimate aim is to claim gold at the Paralympics in Rio next year.

Ave, 22, was born five weeks premature. He had a stroke shortly afterwards, which left the right side of his body paralysed.

He began the sport in 2004 in Johannesburg. Earlier this year, he beat his mark of 6.02m, set at the 2012 London Paralympics when he claimed first place in the T31 long jump with a distance of 6.05m.

Sithole, 29, from Newcastle, was not available for a comment yesterday due to a family bereavement.

Sithole won the British Open quads singles title in Nottingham in July and the Daegu Open doubles title after teaming up with Great Britain's Anthony Cotterill.

Du Preez, a 34-year-old actuary, has also done well for himself. Having dreamt of being a triathlete, he got into the Ironman event after a car accident left him paralysed from the chest down 11 years ago. He is classified as a C6 quadriplegic and can only move his head, shoulders and arms.

Du Preez completed a 226km Ironman event in Western Australia in December, covering the 180km cycling event in a reclining cycle, the 3.8km swim with his specially adapted double backstroke and the marathon on a specially adapted three-wheel wheelchair.

With only three days to go, the department has urged the public to vote for their favourites in the sport fan, sports programme and sports personality categories.

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