About Silvia's Gymnastics
The relationship between the South African Gymnastics and the coaches from Silvia's Gymnastics is one based on the love of the sport and the love of the human spirit.
Wessel Oosthuizen along with his daughter Heidi-Marie Oosthuizen, herself a South African and African gymnastics champion, came to the assistance of Miss Silvia and her mother Miss Maia during a time of true heartbreak and desperation.
In 1992, a month after Miss Silvia competed in the 1992 Olympics representing her home country of Bulgaria, she broke her neck while training. Miss Silvia was paralyzed in the accident. After a series of surgeries, including a fusion done from the back of her neck, she slowly started to walk again.
However, she still required additional surgeries. After a series of political rejections which included traveling to Paris to see a neurosurgeon, Miss Silvia received an invitation from the Oosthuizen family in South Africa whom she had only met briefly a year prior.
She was granted a 3-month stay in South Africa and was met with open arms by a family she barely knew. Miss Silvia walked with a distinct spastic limp and needed the assistance of Miss Maia's arm for balance. Her head was slightly forward and there was a knob at the back of her neck. She possessed no feeling in her hands.
The Oosthuizen Family arranged for Miss Silvia to see Dr. Johan Wasserman, one of the top neurosurgeons in South Africa. The result was an immediate corrective cervical fusion as the disc between the two vertebrae was penetrating her spinal cord. Dr. Wasserman offered his services free of charge.
Through the efforts of Wessel Oosthuizen and his family, he was able to secure sponsors to cover all of Miss Silvia's medical fees. Miss Silvia recuperated and recovered at the Oosthuizen home.
Ten weeks after she arrived in South Africa, she and Miss Maia returned home to Bulgaria. Miss Silvia regained the feeling in her hands and was able to walk unassisted thanks to the kindness and unconditional love of people she barely knew, in particular the Oosthuizen Family, for which she will always be indebted.
Silvia's Gymnastics took 11 gymnasts to Johannesburg in 2008 for 10 days to live with, train with and compete with some of the top South African Gymnasts. This was coordinated by Wessel Oosthuizen. The South African gymnasts visited Silvia's Gymnastics in 2010 and stayed with Silvia's Gymnastics' families while training and competing with our girls. Many friendships were formed and we wish our South African friends good luck in their gymnastics dreams.