Local para-athlete JP Veaudry represented SA at the ISA World Para Surfing Championships in the US from December 4 to 11, returning home with a silver medal.
The games were hosted by the International Surfing Association at Prismo Beach in California, with athletes from more than 100 countries competing.
As Veaudry anticipated, the waves were a lot smaller than he is accustomed to.
“I was excited to get into the water and surf my first heat but as luck would have it, when I got my first opportunity, the waves completely deteriorated to practically nothing while scoring a 2 and 2.5 as my two high scores,” Veaudry said.
“I continued to struggle throughout the event as the waves continued to decrease in size, coming second in every heat.
“The waves became so small for one of my heats that I was forced to take out a seven foot board just to be able to catch a wave.”
Despite this, he was able to progress to the finals on December 10 and achieved a combined score of 13.70, less than a point shy from his competitor, earning Veaudry a silver medal.
Veaudry is part of the South African para-surfing side who wrapped up in fifth place overall, their highest position to date.
Though the championships were cut short due to an 8-10 foot swell predicated for December 11, Veaudry was able to fulfil his childhood dreams including being hosted by 1977 world champion Shaun Tomson.
In future, Veaudry hopes his success will inspire other people with disabilities to take up surfing.
He said he would like to thank his sponsors and team members but above all his family for their support.
“It’s because of them that I do anything!
“My family, Gabriela my wife and Isabela and Emelia my daughters, have been my biggest supporters and they are my everything,” Veaudry said.