City holding thumbs for local Paralympics hopeful

Alani, who was diagnosed with a degenerative eye disease that affected her peripheral vision at the age of 12 years old, has been swimming since she was four years old, but only started swimming competitively six years ago when her vision impairment started affecting her ability to play other sports including hockey and tennis.
Since the start of her professional swimming career, Ferreira has dreamt of making it to the Paralympics, and that dream came true when she received the news, that she had made the South African team, on her 18th birthday, earlier this year.
Due to the fact that the Paralympics fell uncomfortably right between her matric trials and final examinations, she has had to work extremely hard both in the water and in the classroom, to balance her academics and Paralympics training.
“It’s been a very stressful time for her, having to write trials and train for the Paralympics, but she has worked so hard to get where she is now and I’m just so happy for her.
I’m glad she is enjoying it, it’s always been her dream to get there, so I’m glad she was able to make her dream come true,” said her father Danie Ferreira.
A week into the Games, Alani has already completed four heats and races including the women’s 100m breastroke, freestyle and butterfly and has broken the African record for all of her heats, some even being her own records. Her last race will take place on Saturday when she will be swimming the women’s 100m backstroke heat and hopefully the final.
Speaking about her experience at the Rio Paralympics so far, the young swimmer said that overall the “vibe has been amazing.”
“The SA team are getting closer by the day and I can already see myself making friendships that are going to last a life time. The part that has been my favourite so far is spending time with my coaches and manager who have guided me and given me not just swimming, but life advice that will definitely help me throughout my swimming career,” Alani said.
Her coach Wayne Riddin, from the Seals Swimming Club in Pine Street said he was extremely proud of her performance especially as this was her first international meet and she had come straight from writing her trial examinations.
“For her first international meat Alani has done very well. I believe this will be the first of many more if she continues to pursue a swimming career. She puts a lot of pressure on herself to achieve her goals and it has been great coaching her and watching her improvement over the couple of years that I have been coaching her,” said Riddin.
Mrs Vicky Crookes, marketing head at Epworth said that the school was delighted at Alani’s swimming achievements.
“Epworth is extremely proud of Alani and her swimming achievements at the Paralympics.  She is a star pupil and has worked diligently to reach her goals, having to juggle her swimming with her academic and music commitments,” Crookes expressed.
With her first Paralympics coming to a close this weekend, Alani is already aiming to make it to Tokyo for the 2020 Paralympics and hopefully win a medal.

Jade le Roux

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