Former paraplegic Joey Evans was the only South African to finish the 2017 Dakar Rally on a motorcycle. Picture: Motorsport Media
Buenos Aires -  A decade ago Joey Evans was rendered paraplegic after a racing accident but at the weekend he defied the odds when he completed the 2017 Dakar Rally in Argentina.

Evans, from Gauteng, was the only South African on two wheels left in the race and he finished 93rd overall.

Evans had broken his T8 and T9 vertebrae and crushed his spinal cord while competing at the Heidelburg Hare Scramble in 2007, leaving him paralysed below the chest .

His daughter Jenna posted a message to her father after he completed the race at his first attempt .

“From being diagnosed as a paraplegic to praying and being able to learn to walk again. Then you started riding again one lap at a time with your friends helping you on and off the bike to racing again and finishing races.”

She added that her father had been involved in another accident when he collided with a cow and was back to hospital for physiotherapy.

“You then started having your dream play in your mind over and over to do the Dakar. And so you planned and decided you would do it. You fund-raised, you lost weight, you worked your Joey magic and got all the help you needed and more with all the support from all your friends, family and even people you don’t know! Your story is now known all over and is inspiring people daily. I am so proud of you dad.”

Evans rode most of the 9000km route with a torn cruciate ligament. Picture: Gustavo Epifanio via 

Simon Morton, editor of ZA Bikers, and other biking enthusiasts met Evans last year and assisted him with fund-raising to get him to Dakar. Morton said after meeting him they all came away as “firm Joey fans”.

“His incredible courage and absolute humility shone through as he shared his story. We felt that if sheer guts could get Joey to the finish at Dakar, he was in it with a serious chance. What we, and no one else for that matter, could ever imagine was how Joey could achieve his dream.”

The gruelling race saw riders being on the road for up to 21 hours a day and Evans rode the better part of Dakar with a torn cruciate ligament in one knee.

Morton said they were amazed at how persistent Evans was, saying “no matter what the race threw at him, be it mud, sand, heat, cold, altitude or whatever he simply sucked it up and soldiered on”.

Cape Argus

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