Dedication and motivation key to Shaun Butler’s sporting success

George local Shaun Butler chairs the Disabled Road-race Foundation – hosts of the annual Outeniqua Chair Challenge (OCC), which rolls along on February 24.

George, Garden Route (January 2024) - After a motorcycle accident left Shaun Butler with a spinal cord injury nearly a decade ago, this inspirational 33-year-old has been shifting focus to sports that allow him to excel as a paraplegic athlete. 

Having swopped his iron horse for a three-wheeled racer of a different kind, Shaun has refused to let this new set of circumstances define him. First, he turned to hand-cycling, then bodybuilding as a means to not only overcome adversity but also to excel in these challenging sporting disciplines. 

“I have been training and competing in bodybuilding for about 18 months, since July 2022. Before that I was doing CrossFit and hand-cycling – in which I took an interest after my first 5km OCC in 2015, when I met Pieter du Preez for the first time,” says Shaun. 

Having again signed up to compete in this year’s Chair Challenge, Pieter du Preez is one of the sport’s brightest stars. A familiar face at the OCC, he had also won gold in the 2020 Paralympics in Japan, and was the first quadriplegic ever to complete a full Ironman.

“It was a great experience that exposed me to the sport, at the time I was still new to the scene and didn't know much about the options available. Choosing a favorite activity is difficult for me, as I have an extreme interest in all of the sports that I participate in.” 

Shaun’s dedication and discipline have led to a body that defies limitations and serves as an inspiration to countless individuals worldwide. An example of this commitment is the rapid rate at which he managed to shoot up in the bodybuilding ranks. 

After countless hours in the gym, sculpting his physique, and mastering the art of bodybuilding, Shaun won the disability section at the Physical Culture Association’s (PCA) Battle of the Titans held in the Cape last July.

He was then selected to take part in the PCA SA Championships in Pretoria in September and, based on his performance at this major event, jetted off to Spain for the PCA World Championships in November, where he scored a third spot podium position. 

“The trip to Malaga was amazing, as it was my first international exposure to a sporting code that motivated me and gave me the drive to keep on going. The takeaway from the trip is that no matter what your circumstances, you can always achieve the goals that you set out. Dedication and motivation are key,” says Shaun.

When back on the subject of the upcoming OCC, he pays tribute to Disabled Road-race Foundation initiator Esther Watson: “The Foundation started in the early 2000s with Esther as the main driving force. Ever since it(Disabled Road Race Foundation) has been the host of the OCC yearly – the only exclusive wheelchair race in South Africa to date”.

“I have been racing in the OCC since 2015, only having missed one year because of Covid, so this will be my eighth race. I have been involved with the Foundation and event organizing since 2018. The race, this year celebrating its 20th anniversary, has grown into one of the most prestigious wheelchair events in South Africa.” 

With the new sporting pursuits on his plate, Shaun says he will only be doing the 21km hand-cycle race this year. There are also 42.2km and 10km route options, as well as a 5km fun race for all, and a boxcar section for local businesses in need of great exposure and an excellent team-building opportunity. 

Two categories in the competitive section are open to quadriplegic and paraplegic athletes, and subcategories cater to competitors depending on the type of chair used. 

These include racing chairs, hand-cycles, basketball chairs, and more.
If your business would like to get involved or you could help out as a volunteer at the OCC hub of Carpe Diem School on Friday, February 23, and Saturday 24th, contact Alewijn Dippenaar at or on 082 457 5675.

Shaun has a final word of motivation for those now considering entering: “I call out to all differently-abled individuals who need a new challenge and want to feel part of a great community – not to mention the excellent health benefits – to come and join us on the day for a fun-filled experience.”

Sponsors of this year’s OCC are headlined by George Municipality and include Lancewood, Safari, the Premier’s Office, Western Cape Department of Cultural Affairs & Sport, Eden Sports Council, and Algoa FM. Call Shaun Butler at 083 701 8387 for additional information.