KEARSNEY’S OLD BOY AIMING FOR PERFECTION IN RIO PARALYMPIC
*Caption: Mpumelelo Mhlongo to represent South Africa at the RIO Paralympics.
Written by: Sandile Lukhozi
Kearsney College’s old boy and Paralympics starlet, Mpumelelo Mhlongo believes that growing up in Klaarwater is a motivation that paved the way for his athletics career.
“Klaarwater definitely showed me my love for all sports and having competitive friends to share it with was what paved way into athletics. I just feel sorry for my grandmother’s washing line which was used for high jumps,” said Mhlongo.
The 22-year-old was announced in South African Sports Confederation and Olympics Committee (SASCOC)’s star-studded 45 athletes to represent South Africa across ten sporting codes at the 2016 Paralympics from September 7-18.
He said that aiming for gold is what rings in his mind and going to Rio would require him to apply all his winning techniques.
Mhlongo, who is also a UCT final year student in BSc Chemical Engineering and 2015 Sportsperson for the institution, is no stranger to winning having broken African records in long-jump and high-jump respectively.
Known as ‘Mpumi’ by the Athletics fraternity, the current South African T44 Champion in the 100m, 200m, long jumps and high jumps continues to prove that disability is not a barrier.
Mhlongo was born with a handicap which affects the function of one of his leg and has since got involved in sports particularly athletics.
“I have been always been told that learn to love to love yourself. Learn to fail and learn from those failures those are the building blocks of success for who may not be starting off on equal grounds,” said Mhlongo.
In 2012 during his matric year at Kearsney College, the Paralympian achieved 7 distinctions. Despite achieving such results, Mhlongo remains adamant that school didn’t test pressure handling abilities.
“I was lucky to attend Kearsney College which had all the teachers and facilities one can ask for. I made sure the opportunity was not wasted. I feel as though the school did not test intelligence whether or not you can handle pressure so I would not pin it down as a success,” added Mhlongo.
Sports reporter, Rowan Nicolls, said that the lack of competitions for disable people in South Africa limits opportunities and competitiveness for athletes like Mhlongo.
“The lack of disability-only competitions in South Africa means that he only gets a few opportunities each year to test himself against others on an equal playing field,” said Nicolls.
Shortly after the SASCOC announced the Paralympics team, Kearsney released a statement wishing Mhlongo the best for his selection.
“This is wonderful news. We are very proud of him and what he has achieved to date and wish him all the best for the Games, Go Mpume!” according to the statement.