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05 June 2019 | Story Ruan Bruwer
Louzanne Coetzee
Athlete Louzanne Coetzee with the trophy of the Free State Sports Association for the Physically Disabled as Sports Star of the Year.

Although challenging, very exciting and a new journey, says Louzanne Coetzee about the athletics year for which she has been recognised.

The 26-year-old, who is doing her master’s in Social Cohesion and Reconciliation Studies at the University of the Free State, won the Free State Sports Association for the Physically Disabled (FSSAPD) Sports Star of the Year award for a fourth consecutive time. This was for the period June 2018 to April 2019.

In that time, she set a world record, an Africa record, and ran two marathons in which she came amazingly close to a second world record.

Only in her second marathon at the Berlin Marathon in September, the Paralympian fell 26 seconds short of the T11 (totally blind) world record time. She met the qualifying time for the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo during the London Marathon in April.

“Marathons are definitely challenging and a new field for me, but I would say it has been a good 12 months. My aim is now set on next year’s Paralympic Games, where I would like to compete in the marathon and the 1 500 m.”

“I hope to run a good time in the 1 500 m at the World Para Athletics Championships in November.”

At the SASAPD National Championships for physically disabled and visually impaired athletes in April 2019, Coetzee won three gold medals and set a record in the 1 500 m. 

Others from the UFS also honoured

Coetzee has received several awards in her career, but says it is always special to be rewarded by her own federation (FSSAPD). 

Danie Breitenbach (T11) was also honoured as the Senior Male Sports Star. He bagged two gold medals and one silver and set a SA record in both the 800 m and 1 500 m at the nationals. Another Kovsie, Dineo Mokhosoa (F36 – coordination impairments), received a merit award for her gold medal in shot-put and silver in the discus at the national champs.

News Archive

Tactile paving assists visually impaired
2017-10-28

Description: ' 000 Blind Tactile Paving Tags: Blind Tactile Paving

Tactile paving is being installed at pedestrian crossings to assist
visually-impaired persons at the UFS.
Photo: Supplied

Crossing roads and accessing buildings has always been a challenge for people with visual impairments. They had to rely on peripheral sounds, such as car brakes and cues. However, after the installation of tactile paving – paving with special textures assisting the visually impaired to feel the difference between walking around on campus and crossing the road, this will no longer be a problem at the University of the Free State (UFS).

This is one of several developments that University Estates’ Department of Facilities Planning has in the pipeline for 2017 in order to ensure that the university attains its key component in providing a high-quality student experience.

Maureen Khati, Assistant Director of Project Management: Facilities Planning, says, “We saw the need to install these paving blocks in strategic spaces, as identified by the Center for Universal Access and Disability Support (CUADS).” She says these blocks will make it easier for people with visual impairments.

Special features designed to aid visually-impaired persons

These installations have special features that will assist those students and employees with limited vision or blindness to navigate through pedestrian crossings and the different campus buildings. The university chose a unique design of tactile paving that focuses on warning and directing those with visual impairments.

UFS eager to improve accessibility and mobility

The university, and all the stakeholders involved in this initiative, are delighted to be embarking on this project and are looking forward to its successful execution. To improve accessibility and mobility, more accessible entrances and exits will be built, effective signage will be installed inside and outside buildings, but the most important aspect is that dedicated seating space will be made available in lecture rooms for special-needs students.

Khati says, “More focus has been put on installing ramps in all buildings to make them more accessible for people with disabilities, as well as other needs required to enhance accessibility at the UFS.”

For the UFS, this initiative is one of many to come, as extensive research is being done and priorities are implemented accordingly.

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