Meet Two South African Athletes Aiming For Gold And Combatting Adversity
Photo Cred: CNN African Voices Changemakers

These two incredible athletes are shining examples of how dedication and hard work pay off… and hope to inspire younger generations to follow their dreams.


South Africa (27 February 2023) – For some people, sports skills are taught and developed over time; for others, a unique talent that is obvious from the beginning. The new host of African Voices Changemakers (AVCM), CNN International Correspondent Larry Madowo, meets artistic gymnast Caitlin Rooskrantz and two-time paralympic archer Shaun Anderson in the latest episode of AVCM to learn how they are using their talents to combat adversity.

As proven by Shaun Anderson, who had his arm amputated in 2004, talents can be discovered at any stage in life.

Shaun unlocked his innate archery talent after being inspired by his son, “I thought, if he’s going to do it, I’m going to do it with him. I started archery six months later and won the World Indoor Championships.”

He even continued to represent South Africa at the 2016 Rio Paralympics.

Although he did not place at the Games, his resilience was demonstrated when his bow’s brace broke amid the competition.

He dropped from eighth place to last, and although disappointed, took fifteen minutes to fix his equipment and came back out fighting, “I came back onto the field, and I started shooting. I went from last place to 17th. [Some] weeks later I got an invitation to go to Vegas because I was nominated for the disabled athlete of the year,” he says.

Shaun was paralysed from the waist down a year after Rio in a boating accident. Even in his darkest times, Shaun says he found the will to keep going by having a good network around him.

At the 2022 African Archery Championships in Pretoria, South Africa, Shaun adds another medal to his collection, “Today, I’m number one in Africa. Now the job is to go out there and show people that you can do anything you put your mind to.”

The programme also meets Caitlin Rooskrantz who discovered her talent at a young age, after her parents steered her to pursue gymnastics due to her personality and physical agility as a child.

Meet Two South African Athletes Aiming For Gold And Combatting Adversity
Photo Cred: CNN African Voices Changemakers

However, she was hesitant that she would ever participate in the Olympics, “I had a big dream of going to the Olympics. It was like this very far-fetched dream that I had at the time. Nonetheless, I still wanted to give everything I could at the time to go for it and I achieved it and made history in doing so.”

Caitlin has been dedicated to her passion from a very young age, balancing gymnastics with school and spending time with friends and family.

This has resulted in numerous medals and notable honours, “This is the bronze medal, which for me will always be a massive achievement. To know that we can do it. If we can obtain a Commonwealth Medal, we are halfway there,” she says.

She has now become the first South African female artistic gymnast, and one of two female gymnasts of colour, to qualify for the Olympics.

Both Shaun and Caitlin are an example of dedication and hard work and hope to inspire younger generations to follow their dreams.

“I love meeting young kids who feel like the world’s coming to an end for them and the next minute they’re going mad. I love that – that’s what archery does,” Shaun says.

Caitlin echoes the same sentiment, “For me, [I want to] be that inspiration to the younger gymnasts, to show them that your dreams are not crazy or impossible. If this is what we could achieve under the circumstances, and it is getting better, by the time they are seniors, the gymnastics in South Africa will be so much better.”

Sources: CNN African Voices Changemakers 
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