Louzanne Cootze

Louzanne Cootze

I am currently doing my masters at the UFS in social cohesion and reconciliation studies.
I also work as a research assistant at the institute for reconciliation and social justice and I am an athlete for my university.
I am a T11, totally blind, athlete and I compete in middle distance events like the 800m, 1500m and 5000m. I also enjoy road racing a lot. I competed in two world championships in 2013 and 2015 and also competed at the Paralympic Games in 2016 in the 1500m.
I enjoy spending time with friends and family and believe that I would not have been where I am today if it wasn’t for those people. Other hobbies include: cooking, hiking, cycling, reading and anything outdoors really.
I believe that one should tackle any challenge in a positive manner searching for solutions to problems and not only focusing o the problem itself.

“If you want to go fast go alone; if you want to go far go together”: An Exploration of the Relationships formed Between Totally Blind Athletes and Their Guides


In this article I explore the relationships between guides and T11 (blind) para athletes at the University of the Free State, South Africa. Currently limited literature is available on the relationships between athletes with disabilities and non-disabled athletes. My personal experience with para athletics and the dynamics of the relationships I have observed between disabled and nondisabled athletes stimulated this research. The purpose of the study necessitated an explorative, descriptive and contextual design and a qualitative approach was taken. Reflections in the form of diary entries were collected from four guide athletes. Two in-depth interviews were also held with guides who have extensive experience with international participation and have travelled widely with blind athletes. A thematic content analysis was performed and the data sets were compared. From this my results identified recurring themes that seem to form the core of the relationships between the guides and blind athletes. These themes include a sense of responsibility by the guide athlete towards the blind athlete; fear of not measuring up to expectations; equality as a necessity in the relationship; commitment and more. Results clearly indicate that relationships are different for all the guides involved subject to individual interpretation and that some of them experience higher levels of uncertainty when dealing with disability than do others. It was positive, however, to identify that each of the guides experienced a change of perspective on sport for the disabled after working with blind athletes. Some even describing a blind athlete as an “ambassador” for athletics. Taking in to consideration my personal experience, as well as the analysis of the results from this article, it is vital that future research looks at connecting the worlds of disabled sport and nondisabled sport to find a way to form a mutual bond between disabled athletes and nondisabled athletes.

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