Mhlengi Gwala
Photo Credit: Supplied

After an assault that left his leg severely damaged, Mhlengi Gwala’s life as a rising athlete changed forever. But, he refused to let this be the end of his story. Chasing new dreams, his sights are now on the 2024 Paralympics, and South Africa is fully behind him:


Global (01 February 2024) — In March 2018, Mhlengi Gwala was a rising star in international triathlons from South Africa. He was in his late 20s, and the future was as bright as headlights.

But one fateful morning, trauma struck. While training in Durban, he was assaulted in the most vicious way by assailants who would hand-saw his leg, leaving muscles, nerves and bones damaged. This was followed by an attack on his left leg.

Anyone’s spirits would’ve been shattered after something like this. But Mhlengi has a lion’s heart, filled with the kind of strength that eventually got him back on his bike.

Mhlengi’s crowdfunding campaign, “Get Mhlengi back on his bike,” won hearts around the world and raised over R764,000, which was vital to his medical expenses. It showed not only that people believed he could overcome the worst of adversity, but also helped him build a house and hope for his mom.

Fast forward to 2024, and Mhlengi is not only ‘back on his bike’ but has emerged as a formidable figure in para-athletics. Here are some of his achievements; enough to make the toughest among us cry knowing the story behind the accolades:

  • 1st Place: 2019 Shandrani African Championship
  • 2nd Place: Portugal World Para Cup
  • 1st Place: 2021 RSA Championship
  • 12th Place: 2021 World Championships in Abu Dhabi
  • 1st Place: 2022 RSA Championship
  • 7th Place: 2022 World Para Cup in Coruna
  • 1st Place: 2023 African Championship in Hurghada

Preparations are now on for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games, where he will compete alongside 4,400 athletes from a record number of National Paralympic Committees.

Pictured above: Mhlengi at the World Paratriathlon Cup (Bari, Italy 2022)

Mhlengi is set to participate in the Para triathlon, which will start from Pont Alexandre III bridge in Paris.

As Mhlengi prepares for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games, scheduled for August 28 to September 8, he is upping the ante on his rigorous training routine for running, swimming and cycling.

Accompanying his training is another dream. That of purchasing a steed for the big Games—a Speed Concept SLR 7 Bike, designed for peak performance. He has set up a crowdfunding campaign to support getting the kind of bike that’ll do his hard-training justice. You can support it here!

Should the campaign raise funds beyond the cost of the bike, the additional finances will be allocated towards the myriad of expenses associated with competing at the highest level, including travel, accommodation, intensive training camps, nutrition, and professional coaching.

Seeing Mgheni Gwala make South Africa proud in Paris this year wouldn’t just be an individual achievement, but one for absolutely anyone who has faced the unthinkable and thought it was the end of the road. It’ll be an achievement for the dreamers. The ones who believe that hope still exists even in the toughest places. And the ones who give others license to find new dreams by virtue of their resilience.

“The people of South Africa and across the world are the ones who have kept me going. Their support and well-wishes —and my children—are what kept me going.”—Mhlengi Gwala.

Sources: BackaBuddy 
Don’t ever miss the Good Things. Download the Good Things Guy App now on Apple or Google
Do you have something to add to this story? Please share it in the comments or follow GoodThingsGuy on Facebook & Twitter to keep up to date with good news as it happens, or share your good news with us by clicking here or click the link below to listen to the Good Things Guy Podcast with Brent Lindeque – South Africa’s very own Good Things Guy. He’s on a mission to change what the world pays attention to, and he truly believes there’s good news around us. In the Good Things Guy podcast, you’ll meet these everyday heroes & hear their incredible stories:

Or watch an episode of Good Things TV below, a show created to offer South Africans balance in a world with what feels like constant bad news. We’re here to remind you that there are still so many good things happening in South Africa & we’ll leave you feeling a little more proudly South African.

Facebook Comments

About the Author

Ashleigh Nefdt is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Ashleigh's favourite stories have always seen the hidden hero (without the cape) come to the rescue. As a journalist, her labour of love is finding those everyday heroes and spotlighting their spark - especially those empowering women, social upliftment movers, sustainability shakers and creatives with hearts of gold. When she's not working on a story, she's dedicated to her canvas or appreciating Mother Nature.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *