California calls for disabled East London man
LOCAL surfer Jean Paul Veaudry has been selected to represent South Africa at the International Surfing Association (ISA) Adaptive Surfing World Championships to be held in La Jolla, California, next month.
First held in 2015, the Adaptive Surfing World Champs includes various categories for disabled surfers from around the world.
In 2009, after a hit- and-run accident caused professional photographer Veaudry to have to have his right leg amputated below the knee, he researched ways to continue fulfilling his surfing passion.
“I always surfed, from a really young age. I was always pretty average at it, but I think after the accident and being faced with the possibility of never being able to surf again, it really motivated me and pushed me to set goals for myself,” Veaudry said.
In his first world championships in 2015, Veaudry placed fifth, and last year, he came third, making him the second best amputee surfer in the world because the runner-up was not an amputee.
Veaudry also recently won the South African Adaptive Championships in Cape Town.
Surfing the world champs for the third time, Veaudry hopes to beat rival surfer and world champion Mike Coots from Hawaii this year.
“My first goal is to be the best in the world, the second is to one day surf in the Olympics. It’s all just part of fulfilling my main goal, which is happiness and leading a full life. Surfing is a big part of that,” Veaudry said.
Last year, it was announced that surfing would be added to the sporting menu of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
Veaudry hopes that by 2024, adaptive surfing will be added to the Paralympics, giving him the chance to compete.
“I think my accident really gave me a wake-up call; life is short. You have to keep pushing yourself and do the things that make you happy.
“Since my accident I’ve done so much, from surfing professionally to starting a family.
“Both my wife and daughter are my biggest supporters,” Veaudry said.
Hoping to grow adaptive surfing in East London, and the rest of South Africa, Veaudry is working on recruiting and coaching people in a similar situation.
“I recently completed my Level One instructor’s course and I hope to host various clinics for amputees.
“I want to create awareness and make people see and believe that it is possible. They can still do anything they set their minds to, life isn’t over for them,” Veaudry said.
In order to compete in the championship in the US, Veaudry is required to fund his trip and entry fee, and will need R60000 to cover all the costs.
Supporting him since his first world champs, local company Roll to Secure has set the ball rolling and sponsored Veaudry with R2000.
“I am really grateful to everyone who has helped me get to the world champs in the past. It’s amazing how the East London community comes together. My sponsors have also really been a big help, giving me various products, I really appreciate it,” Veaudry said.
If businesses or individuals are interested in supporting Veaudry as he prepares to attend the world championships, please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org