Share this article:
Cape Town – Paralympian and table tennis champion, Theo Cogill, is set to make his dream of competing in the Paralympics a reality as he prepares to leave on Tuesday.
Cogill’s story is inspirational, having been the first South African male to win an international medal in Egypt, at the age of 14. After further competitions, he was scouted and received further training.
However, in 2011, he suffered a near career-ending setback when he was stabbed trying to break up an altercation, injuring his neck, lower back and arm.
After nearly six months in hospital, he returned home and had to learn how to walk again. Eventually he regained his ability to walk and focused on building strength to once again be able to play table tennis.
Through perseverance and tenacity, he qualified to compete professionally as a differently-abled athlete and placed second at the All-Africa Games.
In 2017, he was the first South African male to win a gold medal in the Taichung/Taiwan International Open. This was followed by the Italian Open, the Belgium Para Open, winning bronze and silver medals.
The 34-year-old from Bonteheuwel will now represent South Africa at the Abled and Disabled National & International teams for Table Tennis. The journey to the Paralympics later this month has not been easy. He recently wrote to the City to request financial support to participate in the Paralympic Games.
This request was assessed and a sponsorship donation of R10 000 through the Mayoral Fund was offered towards the costs of equipment and other items needed to compete.
Cogill said it was difficult to secure funding and he was expected to foot the bill from his own pocket.
“It has been difficult to secure funds to cover the costs to compete. Most of my expenses to compete must be covered by myself, so I am grateful for the sponsorship towards the equipment needed.
“It has taken a lot of effort over a number of years to get back to playing professionally at this level and competing on an international stage like the Paralympics is a dream come true for me,” said Cogill.
On Monday, he received a send-off from mayor Dan Plato who bid him farewell and good luck ahead of the tournament on August 24.
Plato said Cogill was an inspiration to all youth.
“Cogill’s example of determination and resilience is an example to all to never give up on your dreams. Young people need role-models and Cogill is an example of how, with determination and honing your skills, you can achieve great things.
“I am pleased that we can offer assistance to this young man so he can reach a major goal in his life.”