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Young blade runner aims high

Written by Sekgabo Kedijang

Sport

The power of the mind and the will to overcome life’s challenges have contributed to 14-year-old Ntando Mahlangu’s successful career as an athlete.

Ntando Mahlangu out of the blocks in the Boys 16 Sub-Youth 400m Final.

Young athlete Ntando Mahlangu chose to rise above his circumstances and is today building a successful career in athletics.

Mahlangu was born with hemimelia, a condition in which the lower legs do not fully develop, and had to have both his legs amputated at the knees.

Months later, he was introduced to Jumping Kids, an organisation that provides prosthetic solutions and plays a role in creating awareness and advocating for change.

The organisation arranged for the fitment of his first prosthetic legs, including a pair of blades through a joint project with Avis.

In an interview with Vuk’uzenzele, Mahlangu explains that although he was initially scared when he got his legs four years ago, he knew he would be able to use them one day.

Today, running is his favourite sport because it makes him feel free.

He recently participated in the national championships against able-bodied athletes where he won a bronze medal in the 400m under 16 category. He also boasts four gold medals from the 2016 Nedbank National Championships for Physically Disabled.

“Getting legs changed everything. I can do whatever I want and can help my grandmother with things and make her tea; it’s nice,” said Mahlangu.

“Before I could only get around on my knees and I was overweight; now I am strong and can do anything,” he added.

Having prosthetics has also given Mahlangu access to mainstream schooling which provides more opportunities for him to grow in sport and academically. 

He said his motivation comes from the support he gets from his mother, grandmother, Jumping Kids and its founders, the Snyder family.

“I am also motivated by my ability to help other disabled children realise their potential in running and other sporting activities.”

The young athlete also enjoys playing soccer, touch rugby and hockey.

Mahlangu’s next goal is to be part of the Rio Paralympics which will take place in October this year.