Catch up with Liezel v/d Westhuizen ahead of her Himalayan cycle challenge…
The event is a remarkable one as it is an inclusive event which sees visually impaired and amputee athletes taking part. At the age of 16 Jacobsz was diagnosed with Macular Degeneration, Stargard leading to eventual blindness, yet despite what many would view as an incredible impairment, she has gone on to do some truly amazing things that would make fully sighted people think twice!
The event will take place in the Indian Himalayas from 18th to 30th August and will begin in Manali before the cyclist’s climb over 3 500 metres to finish in Khardung La.
Both Van der Westhuizen and Jacobsz are extremely passionate about philanthropy and have decided to use the event to raise funds for two medical charities here in South Africa.
We caught up with Liezel to find out more…
Liezel you are cycling through the Himalaya’s? Tell us how that all came about?
Cindy Jacobs was invited to take part and asked me if I would be her pilot through the race. At the age of 16 Cindy was diagnosed with Macular Degeneration, Stargard leading to eventual blindness, and despite this she had gone on to achieve remarkable things and it’s such an honour to be her pilot on a tandem bicycle through the Himalayas. We are the first South African women to take on this race.
Several the contestants are physically challenged – what is the aim/awareness that you are hoping to create with this campaign?
We are using our journey to raise funds and funds for locally organisations operation smile and ONESIGHT.
How have you been training for this epic challenge?
Weekends Cindy and I spend time training together on her tandem bicycle and during the week I train alone. I also have two function training sessions a week with my Personal Trainer Neil Winstanley as well as an aerial yoga class for stretch and flexibility.
What other projects do you have in the pipeline – that you can hint to us about?
I am planning participation in a massive sporting challenge in 2019 that I am currently preparing for along with my Friend Songo Fipaza, who is from Songo.Info community organisation in Kayamandi in Stellenbosch and we are going to be tackling 3 massive endurance races in 2019 with 2 youngsters from the Kayamandi community. Stay tuned!
Fave item of clothing that you are obsessed with right now and why?
My Giraffe Onesie because it’s so cold in Cape Town right now – laughs.
If you could have dinner with one person alive or dead, who would it be and why?
Natalie du Toit for sure. In 2010 she was awarded the Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability for “breaking down the barriers between disabled and able-bodied sport” and this is a message that should be shared nationally, and I would love to chat to her about her projects over a yummy meal.
Chocolate or Vanilla, and why?
Dark chocolate, of course, that’s because its rich in antioxidants!
Fun Fast Facts about Liezel – and go…
I can play the didgeridoo
My nickname is The Giraffe (this makes sense, have you seen her legs!)
I really cannot dance – I have two left feet!
I have the two cutest rescue Dachshunds named Luke & Leia
I have completed two Dusi Canoe Marathons