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14005-Pieter Du Preez photo

Pieter Du Preez

Athletics

Biography

Impairment information

Type of Impairment
Spinal Cord Injuries
Origin of Impairment
Acquired
Classification
T51, F51

Further personal information

Family
Wife Illse, son Pietman [2017]
Residence
Johannesburg, RSA
Occupation
Analyst, Athlete
Languages
Afrikaans, English
Higher education
Finance, Management - University of Johannesburg: South Africa

Sport specific information

When and where did you begin this sport?
He began in Para sports as soon as he had recovered from the injuries sustained in the accident. He had previously qualified as an able-bodied athlete for the South African team in cycling and triathlon.
Why this sport?
He just naturally kept up his sports after the accident - his attitude was the same, he just had to contend with an impairment. "For some reason my brain was wired differently. I just always saw [my impairment] as a challenge. Why can't I teach myself how to swim? Why don't I give cycling a go? It might sound cocky, but it didn't matter what I did, I was always pretty good at it."

General interest

Nicknames
Supa-P ["As I have overcome a lot."]. (Athlete, 23 Jan 2011)
Most influential person in career
His father. (Athlete, 23 Jan 2011)
Hero / Idol
South African triathlete Raynard Tissink. (Athlete, 23 Jan 2011)
Injuries
In 2013 he broke his arm in three places following a collision with another cyclist during training. Despite his arm being in plaster for two weeks he went on to complete an Ironman event six weeks after the injury. (redbull.com, 24 Feb 2015; you.co.za, 27 Jan 2014; enca.com, 14 Dec 2013)
Sporting philosophy / motto
"When everyone is hurting in a race, the question is who can take the most hurt." (wingsforlifeworldrun.com, 15 Feb 2016)
Awards and honours
He was nominated for the 2015 Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability award. The award was eventually won by Brazilian Para swimmer Daniel Dias. (citizen.co.za, 02 Mar 2016; paralympic.org, 19 Apr 2016)
Other sports
He has competed internationally in Para athletics and Para cycling, and has also taken part in triathlon and Ironman events. (SportsDeskOnline, 05 May 2017)
Impairment
At age 23 he was cycling to a chiropractic appointment when he was hit by a car. His injuries resulted in C6 quadriplegia. He was in the hospital intensive care unit for 42 days, with the first 32 of those in an induced coma. "It was incredible how calm I actually was. The motorist was screaming and shouting and I was just telling her to calm down, that it was OK, that I forgive her." (Men's Health South Africa, 01 Jun 2017; spinalpedia.com, 20 May 2015; modernathlete.co.za, 01 Aug 2013; joburg.org.za, 29 Sep 2010)
Other information
FIRST
He says he was the first elite wheelchair triathlete in South Africa and the first person with quadriplegia to complete the Momentum 94.7 Cycle Challenge using a handcycle. He also claims to be the first athlete with quadriplegia in the world to complete an Ironman event. "It is still mind-blowing, I can't believe it, but I became the first quadriplegic in the world to do an Ironman. Not only did I finish it, I smashed it in 13 hours and 24 minutes, almost four hours under the cut off time. I always want to be the first. Everyone knows who the first guy on the moon was; nobody knows who the second guy was." (inthebunch.co.za, 30 Aug 2017; redbull.com, 18 Mar 2014; enca.com, 14 Dec 2013; uj.ac.za, 20 Feb 2009)

SWIM
In 2017 he became the first quadriplegic person to swim the 8km open water event from Cape Town to Robben Island despite hypothermia setting in with 2km left to swim. (inthebunch.co.za, 30 Aug 2017).
RULE CHANGE

He had a flat tyre for more than 50km of the 2018 Ironman World Championships in Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa. He hoped to have the rules for impaired Ironman athletes changed. "The organisers need to understand I cannot change a tyre and should at least be provided with someone to fix it. This is [a] work in progress. I'm hoping one day all this will change and the rules will allow athletes with impairment to finish [fairly]. We must carry on working and educate each other about quadriplegics." (heraldlive.co.za, 04 Sep 2018)

DECLINING VISION
He has an inherited genetic eye condition which means he has begun to lose his sight. The speed of this process is increased due to his previous injuries. (health24.com, 11 Mar 2013)

OTHER ACTIVITIES
He serves as an ambassador for Wings for Life, a non-profit research foundation that aims to find a cure for spinal cord injuries. (redbull.com, 26 Feb 2016)

Results

Unit Date Rank
2011 IPC Athletics World Championships (Christchurch, New Zealand)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Men's 200 m T51 Final 2011-01-22 2
Men's 100 m T51 Final 2011-01-24 3
London 2012 Paralympic Games (London, Great Britain)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Men's 100 m T51 Final Round 2012-09-03 6