Local female Paralympian para-cyclist defies the odds

Local female Paralympian para-cyclist defies the odds

A double world champion and property founder  

Co-founder of Asher properties Justine Asher is proving that nothing is impossible as a quadriplegic award-winning sportswomen. 

At the age of 18, Justine was injured in a car accident which resulted in her losing the use of her legs due to paralysis and she was left a quadriplegic. After months of rehabilitation, doctors told Justine that she would never walk again, but she persevered and regained the use of her arms and some use of her hands.  

Later in her life, at the age of 26 Justine met her husband Shaun Asher, the two have been happily married for 21 years and have two teenage daughters. The couple run a successful real estate business, Asher Properties, in Cape Town.  

As an inspiration to women across the world, Justine had always been fitness-conscious with a love for running, swimming and being outdoors. At the age of 40 she decided to embark on a new challenge.  

Justine comments on her sporting achievements and the numerous awards she has received.  

“I started para-cycling in 2012 when I got my first-hand bike. In early 2013 I competed at OCC winning my first 42km race. 

“In a few years I rose from rookie paracyclist to competing internationally around the globe on the world stage winning many world cups and eventually being titled the world champion in 2015 in the Switzerland.  In 2016 I was selected to represent South Africa at the Rio Paralympic Games.  In the years that followed Rio, after retiring from competing, I participated in the 2018 and 2019 Cape Town Cycle Tour 109km in distance.  In 2018 I won the title for the 42km OCC finishing in the time of 1:29:56,” she said.

Within the para-cycling races, Justine competes in the H2 Category – which includes athletes “with impairments corresponding to a severe lesion at C7/C8 or above.” Athletes within this category compete on a handcycle with a rigid frame in a recumbent position.  

In 2013, Justine became the victim of a medical scam which promised a miracle stem-cell procedure to cure her paralysis and fracturing bones in both her feet. Facing multiple challenges, Justine overcame her obstacles and in 2014 was named South African sportswoman of the year with a disability.  

This year Justine will compete in the 17th Outeniqua Cycle Challenge (OCC), a wheelchair race that attracts athletes from across the globe and will take place in George on 14 September 2019. It is a wheelchair race exclusively for disabled athletes and is the first of its kind to be hosted in South Africa.  

Ernst Van Dyk, a well-known OCC participant expresses that he is impressed with the determination Justine has in her sporting career and her rapid rise among the elites of the sport.  

 “We don’t have many female handcyclists in South Africa and Justine has come through very fast and has raised the interest of other females wanting to get into the sport,” said Van Dyk. “She is very dedicated in her training and she is going through a fast learning curve as we head for World Championships,” added Van Dyk. 

Justine has an undeniable passion for being out on her bike, without any limitations and believes that with hard work and dedication, women can reach the highest level in any sport.  

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