Quadriplegic Athlete Warms Up For Isuzu IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship:
PORT ELIZABETH - ISUZU South Africa sponsored a world-class, inspirational sportsman who planned to reach a new milestone at the previous Isuzu IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship, which took place on 1 & 2 September 2019, in Port Elizabeth.
Pieter du Preez, 38, an actuarial analyst from Johannesburg, was hoping to lead the way for more quadriplegics to follow when he participated in the previous Isuzu IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship.
Following his accident over 15 years ago in which he broke his neck, Du Preez can only move his wrists, biceps and shoulders and has no hand or finger movements, no triceps and is completely paralysed below the chest.
Being an aspiring semi-professional triathlete before the accident, Du Preez never gave up on his passion for being a sportsman - the only difference is that now he does the cycle part of the race in a hand cycle and the running part of the race in a racing chair.
Du Preez considers his greatest sporting achievement to date when he became the first quadriplegic in the world to complete an IRONMAN in Western Australia in 2013. Since then he has gone on to complete four full IRONMAN and three IRONMAN 70.3 races.
As there is no separate category for quadriplegics, Du Preez raced against paraplegics and amputees who on average have more than three times his muscle function during the previous Isuzu IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship – which was hosted in Port Elizabeth.
“I am ecstatic to be racing. I am paving the road for other quads to believe that ‘anything is possible’ and maybe it opens a door to get to Kona, which is my ultimate dream,” said Du Preez.
Port Elizabeth was the chosen venue for the IRONMAN World Championships, a first time in the history of IRONMAN World Championships. Usually held in Kona, Hawaii, since 1978. It was the first year that the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship got hosted in Port Elizabeth.
The IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship was sponsored by Isuzu Motors South Africa.
Isuzu Motors South Africa Executive Officer: Sales, Service and Marketing Craig Uren said as a trusted and reliable brand, the sponsorship to IRONMAN made sense since Isuzu’s tagline ‘With you for the long run’ is in line with the endurance and strength athletes like Du Preez show in competing in the gruelling event.
“Du Preez is an amazing sportsman and we are proud to be his sponsor. Isuzu South Africa wishes him and all the athletes the very best in the upcoming championship,” said Uren.
Du Preez said being an ambassador for the title sponsor was a huge honour.
“I am incredibly thankful towards Isuzu, who attributed to why I have the opportunity to race at the world championships right here on home-soil. I will give it all on race-day to make Isuzu and SA proud,” Du Preez said.
Du Preez is a formidable sportsman with a trophy cabinet to match. He is the four-time world champion in para-cycling, ten times world championship medallist in cycling and athletics, and the first quadriplegic person to swim from Cape Town to Robben Island.
Other than his dream of getting an IRONMAN slot for Kona, Du Preez also hopes to swim across the English Channel and participate in the 2020 Summer Paralympics in Tokyo.
“My biggest challenge, however, is being a great father to my 15-month old son, Pietman. We as people inspire each other and can do so every day, everywhere, anytime… and when a bad thing happens, even on race day, it is an opportunity to be Great,” Du Preez said.
Du Preez saw support from his wife Ilse, son, little Pietman. As well as his race partner coach Raynard Tissink. during the Isuzu IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship.
Follow him on social media @supapiet