The parasurfer prepares to head to the world championships
SPORTY go-getter Tracy Lee McKay is thrilled to have been selected to compete at the Parasurf World Championships in Prismo Beach, California with the South African Parasurf Team.
The 52-year-old Bluff resident who exceeded her expectations when she competed in parasurfing for the first time in May 2019, which led to her being selected to compete in the SA Team World Championships Para 2020, is thrilled to make waves as it takes on the world’s best surfers for the third time this year.
Tracy was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2003 and, although treatment was successful, she was diagnosed with a gait disorder which worsened over time.
“I walk on crutches and I have braces on both legs for stability, but when I’m at a sporting event, I use my wheelchair. It was a huge adjustment for me to live with a disability, but I chose to make it a positive moment. I know it sounds strange, but I love my disabled life and no, if I could go back, I wouldn’t want to change anything. I accepted my disability and embraced it. What I’ve accomplished is beyond my expectations,” Tracy said.
Leading an active life, with talents in swimming, lifesaving, hockey, track and field and softball, Tracy was happy to be able to continue swimming and surfing, and was introduced to parasurfing by her friend, who was a para-athlete. .
“I’m still able to swim and I like swimming in open water. Every year I swim the Midmar Mile and try to participate in as many Dolphin Miles as possible. I have just started handcycling and I love it. Surfing, however, is my number one priority. When my friend introduced me to para surfing, I was naturally up for a challenge. I fell in love with the sport the first time I tried,” Tracy said.
She competes in the unassisted recumbent visually impaired category and should be able to paddle through waves and catch a wave without any assistance.
“When I’m on the board I can maneuver the board but at no time am I allowed to sit or kneel on my board. If I go down and lose my board, the water assistants can search for it and bring it to me, but I have to get on the board without anyone touching me. Big waves are a challenge but I like challenges. A real challenge is that para surfing is not a sport that you can practice on my own. I surf for Made for More, a non-profit run by Julia van Zyl. Every month Julia organizes a surf session and it involves a lot of organizations because we always need people who can help us in water and on land. We also need help with equipment, like beach wheelchairs, beach mats for wheelchairs and surfboards for us surfers,” Tracy added.
In 2020, Tracy represented South Africa at the ISA Parasurfing World Championships and took second place, winning a silver medal herself and earning her a second place finish in the Parasurfing World Rankings.
She then competed in the KZN Champs and SA Champs in 2021, winning her division in both and she was again selected for the 2021 SA Para Surfing Team. She was also voted SA Team Captain, but unfortunately, due to South Africa being redlisted in November 2021, the team was unable to make it to the championships.
“Competition in the Parasurf Championships is self-funded, which led me to embark on a social media fundraising campaign with BackaBuddy.
READ ALSO: Have fun! Support SA para-surfers
I am fortunate to have received a CAFGrant, which is a grant from the Challenged Athletes Foundation in the United States. This year, for the first time, South Africa will send a team of nine men and five women parasurfers and six support team members to the world championships in California from December 4-11. We hope to collect enough to make it to the championships. “, Tracy said.
To donate to Tracy’s journey, go to https://www.backabuddy.co.za/tracy-mckay