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Ntando Mahlangu: ‘I was severely abused because of my disability’

Living with a disability that prevents the foot from growing up is a big personal challenge, so think about being abused when you are growing up in the wrong town and at the same time.

If one does not think so, one can begin to pay tribute to the courage of South Africa’s Ntando Mahlangu, who won two gold medals at this year’s Paralympic Games.

Despite the difficulties as a 19-year-old gold medalist in the 200-meter dash and the sprinter – with his exceptional prowess – in Tokyo, he managed to make his mark in the singles arena. is not enough to get.

He grew up in a wheelchair in the village of Tweefontein, an hour’s drive from the capital Pretoria.

“Being a child with a disability in South Africa, on the African continent, is not an easy task,” Mahlangu told BBC Sports Africa.

“I was badly beaten because of my disability but I had to deal with it and then I had to stand up for myself, which I did at some point in my life.

“This is one of my challenges. Another is to find something that helps me to run, namely the blade, my first, and how to walk.

As he took on so many things in his life, running for the BBC African Footballer of the Year award, he showed that these issues were too small.

Strict action

Mahlangu coach Neil Cornelius believes his player could be one of the most talented players in the world, but that could be the opposite.

“First of all, I want to play football,” he explained.
“I love football but because of the situation I was exposed to, I couldn’t play this game, so I had to change my mind.

I was introduced to athletics in 2014 – I tried it and I love it. “

Just two years apart, Mahlangu – at the age of 14, won the first of his three Paralympic medals, when he won silver in the 200-meter dash at the 2016 Rio Games.

This marked a significant shift in the direction of Mahlangu’s greatest decision in life, when in 2012, a 10-year-old boy at the time, was to choose whether or not to amputate both legs from the knee.

I had my leg amputated in May and in September, I got my first two rubber bands – that was very simple, the decision [is not], ”he recalls.

“I made this decision early, because I was aware of what it involved. In terms of thinking, I was very young and when they asked me about cutting my leg, I just said what would stop me?”
“I was very young so I took risky steps, but these risky steps I do not regret to look at my current situation.”

Just four months after his life-changing event, Mahlangu received a helping hand to run through South Africa’s jumping kids charity – and since then his fortune has grown exponentially.

“When I had the opportunity to walk again, I decided to do the right thing. From then until now, I have made sure that I use my rights wisely. I think it is a very rewarding endeavor.

Embrace the whole thing

Mahlangu’s success in athletics and paralympics has come a long way, although he has already shown signs of success.

In 2015, he won the 200m and 400m relays at the International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports (IWAS) Youth Paralympic Games.

A year later, he won four gold medals at the IWAS Under-23 World Championships, where he was voted the best athlete.

2016, also, when he competed in Rio where he became the youngest South African to ever stand on the Olympic and Paralympic Games, after winning the silver medal in the meter race 200, to the point of establishing an African monument.
As the Tokyo 2029 Olympic Games draw to a close, Mahlangu’s tenacity is once again challenged.

According to the Paralympic Committee of the Paralympic Committee, this means that the young person will be able to compete in only the 200 meters and the high jump.

The second was not a game he was training on but since his coach, Cornelius accepted his request to train him to compete in six weeks, both of them started thinking about winning.

The gold medal he won was unexpected, when Mahlangu, who was winning the bronze medal before his last jump, jumped the 7.17 meters to win the gold medal.

“I should have taken you back to the beginning of the jump,” he explained.

“Make the world record jump and become number one. I think it is the greatest jump I have ever seen in the history of jumping over distance,” he adds to his knee-jerk reaction.

Four days in between he won the 200-meter dash.

Nothing reached me when I won the 200m freestyle and only two gold medals – this was the most important moment of my life.

On his way home from Tokyo, he was greeted with a warm welcome at Johannesburg International Airport, and Mahlangu may have been pardoned for thinking about a change of life.

As he recites his verse, the people of Tweefontein village protest against the lack of water.

The lack of such facilities made it impossible for their hometown to accommodate a living student on a wheelchair, which meant that Mahlangu was enrolled in a good school in Pretoria.

The stage inspired his development as an athlete and a student, and as he completed his high school graduation exams, the Olympic star was looking up and down as a career in athletics.

While such a profession may result in unprecedented wealth, his sports career continues to take him to another world, the value of which is unlimited. youth.

“Games make me feel good,” he explained. “Freedom of movement is definitely something I like when I enter a field.”

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