By: Craig Stirton
25 October 2021: Since losing his left-leg 28 years ago, Leyner Ramirez Alfaro has immersed himself in para-sport which has brought him both joy and tremendous success.
As tough as it is to lose a limb and have one’s life turned upside down, para-sport is often a source of solace for individuals as they adapt to their new realities. So it proved for Costa Rican Ramirez Alfaro after a motorbike accident led to the amputation of his left-leg above the knee.
“I was very young then, and being hospitalized I was invited to practice sport. At that time in Costa Rica there was only the option to practice basketball in a wheelchair so the whole process of reintegration into society transferred to sport,” explains Ramirez Alfaro.
In the years since the accident, the list of sports Ramirez Alfaro has participated in has lengthened considerably. Among them: Tennis, Discus, Javelin, Seated Bowls and Seated-Volleyball.
“I practically didn’t have time to think about my disability because sport enveloped me in such a way that I didn’t have time to think about other distractions so sport has been everything for me.”
Five years ago, Ramirez Alfaro was invited to a golf clinic. Neither he nor anyone in his family had played the game before so naturally he didn’t know what to expect. But after making successful contact with his first-ever swing, he was hooked! So much so that he chose to quit his other sporting pursuits and dedicate his time to developing his golf game.
The prosthetic Ramirez Alfaro had at the time presented the greatest challenge to progressing in the game. Once fit with a more suitable prosthetic, however, the leg-amputee has made great strides in the game.
2019 saw him win two events in the United States while also posting high finishes in three European tournaments.
Ramirez Alfaro admits, however, that Covid-19 stalled his progress.
“I had a break last year because of the pandemic and I didn’t practice all year. I am starting to play regularly again though and am starting to get my rhythm back.
The Canon Open Series has been a part of Ramirez Alfaro’s competitive return in 2021. In the Canon Port Elizabeth Open, he announced himself to the local contingent with a T-2 finish. He admits though that the weekend offered up a somewhat novel challenge.
“It was complicated because I haven’t played with as much wind as we had on the weekend and there was some rain too.”
Ramirez Alfaro says that the conditions and the course required one to focus throughout the round.
“I always had to be attentive throughout the game. The course and the weather did not allow you to relax.”
In the field for the final Canon Open Series event – the Canon Gauteng Open – Ramirez Alfaro is hoping to go one better than at Uitenhage Golf Club.
“I will do my best as always to get the best possible result. Hopefully it will be first-place, it would be a success.”
If Ramirez Alfaro does ultimately prevail at Zwartkop Country Club, it’d be yet another fine achievement in a wonderful para-sport career.
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