Just four years after he first learnt how to walk, 14-year-old Ntando Mahlangu stood on a podium to receive his first Paralympic medal.
Ntando Mahlangu has become South Africa’s sixth medalist at the Paralympic Games in Rio!
He won silver in the 200m for above-the-knee amputees behind the defending champion, Richard Whitehead, of Great Britain. Whitehead milked the applause, but the world had seen a future champion in the making from the land of the south.
The 14-year-old athlete, who was born with hemi-melia and underdeveloped limbs, had to have his legs amputated in 2012, after he had been in a wheelchair his life.
Using a set of prosthetic blades, he hurtled to silver last night in the men’s 200 m. He also broke the African record with a time of 23.77 in the race for above-the-knee amputees.
Ntando received his artificial legs soon after his legs were amputated — but he had to learn to walk all over again.
“It took me a week to learn to walk on them, and after two weeks I was able to run. I felt good when I was able to play soccer with my friends,” the Mpumulanga-born runner told told the Sunday Times . “It was lekker.”
Although he actually prefers the 400 m race, Ntando proved equally adept in the 200 m race.
“I knew that once I got into my stride that I would be okay,” he told IOL.com said after his spectacular performance last night.
“I thought it could do well. It’s not my preferred distance, but I showed that I can run fast over 200 m as well as 400 m.”
South Africa’s medal count stands at six so far:
- Charl du Toit – men’s 100 m
- Hilton Langenhoven – men’s high jump
- Kevin Paul – men’s 100 m breaststroke
- Ntando Mahlangu – men’s 200 m
- Ilse Hayes – women’s 100 m
- Fanie van der Merwe – men’s 100 me