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Speaker From

South Africa



State | County | Province

Western Cape

Speaker Bio

Ernst van Dyk knows if you add the number of miles wheelchair athlete Ernst van Dyk races in a season, it’s second only to the distance he has to fly to get to the respective starting lines.

Ernst is a Conference Speaker, Motivational speaker, MC and Inspirational Speaker

With South Africa as his home base, Ernst has completed marathons and 10K races in New York, Japan, France, Boston, Atlanta, LA and Sydney just this last year alone.

In 2001, he clocked 24 wins on the same international circuit.

Ernst was born with congenital birth defects. ‘This child will suffer from a lack of quality of life due to his disability,” the doctor told his parents, ‘You should put him up for adoption.”

But Ernst’s parents took him home, where they later recognized Ernst’s affinity for sports and encouraged him to participate in gymnastics, table tennis, track and field and swimming.

Ernst preferred swimming to all other sports, however, and, by 17, had won national colors for his aquatic success.

In the Barcelona Olympics in 1992, he finished fifth place in the pool, while also making it to the semifinals in wheelchair events.

Ernst van Dyk

This track appearance turned out to be pivotal in Ernst’s career: The cheer of the crowd as he circled the track propelled him to quit swimming and concentrate solely on wheelchair racing.

A year later, Ernst’s fifth place finish in an Australian 10K caught the attention of a German company, Sopur who offered to sponsor him.

Three years later, however, company budget cuts resulted in the loss of his funding. Disappointed, Ernst took a nine-month hiatus from competing, until he realized too much of his life was missing without sports.

Ernst van Dyk went back to training and competing, and in 1998 secured a sponsorship with Invacare, a relationship that led to him to win five consecutive Boston Marathons.

Above all, Ernst tries to maintain balance in his life, dedicating time to training, motivational speaking, spending time with his wife Suzanne and finding playtime with his two Siberian Huskies.

When Ernst considers the difficult day of his birth, he sees it as a second chance at life instead of the upset of what his life could have been.

The doctor said Ernst would lack quality of life.  Ernst van Dyk instead uses these words to fuel himself to victory — no matter what continent he finds himself in.

As a veteran of many of these occasions, and knowing how difficult an audience of students can be, I have seldom experienced a guest speaker so warmly embraced and acknowledged by a standing ovation.

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