The unfolding journey of Kearsney College old boy Mpumelelo Mhlongo and his Tokyo 2020 dream has many rooting for the young man from Durban.
Being born with amniotic band syndrome left him with a shorter right leg, a deformed club foot and several deformed fingers.
For many with such disabilities on the African continent the future would indeed look bleak. Stigmatisation and exclusion from many societal norms dooms many to a life of poverty and lack of opportunity.
Told he would never walk by the medical fraternity Mhlongo defied all the odds by taking his first steps at 6 years old and has been moving since.
His records bear testament to the work that he has put in.
He is currently the South African 100m and 200m champion and the All-Africa record holder in the 100m, 200m, long and high jump for my para athletic category.
He is also the world record holder for the T44 men’s 200m and long jump, and pending ratification will also hold the 100m world record.
The opportunities he has received has left Mpumelelo with deep sense of gratitude and a desire to give back to the community that is so dear to his heart.
One of those opportunities was receiving a scholarship at Kearsney College where he eventually rose to the level of Captaining his more able bodied school mates. It was during this time that he developed his great drive for sports.
He is presently completing his Phd at the University of Cape Town whilst also pursuing his Tokyo 2020 dream. It seems that everything he touches turns to gold as he has won undergrade Sportsperson of the Year, for an unprecedented, four years in a row.
Mpumi now aims to use his story, journey and eventual success in Tokyo, to put a deserved global spotlight on Africa’s indomitable para athletic talent.
“You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.”—Malcolm S. Forbes.
Truer have never been spoken and we wish Mpumelelo well as he reaches for his dream.
If you want to follow Mpumis journey here are his details: