Gold for ‘blade-sprinter’ Mahlangu

On Saturday (21 July 2018) South Africa’s Ntando Mahlangu lined-up in the highly competitive T61 200m race at this year’s edition of the Müller Anniversary Games  and dashed to gold (23.56s) with Richard Whitehead just behind him (23.72s) and bronze going to David Henson (25.71s), both from Great Britain.

The Games is a popular part of the IAAF Diamond League Series and included no less than 15 Paralympic and world medallists, with over 85 major international medals between them.

“What a great race that was. This is why we love Paralympic sport. It was the old guy versus new blood. This is the legacy of 2012, he was inspired by 2012 and I’m trying to hang on in there,” said Whitehead after the race.

Mahlangu first hit headlines when he won silver in the 200m T42 behind double Paralympic champion Whitehead at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. He was 14 years old at the time.

He set two world marks in the T42 division at the World Para Athletics Junior Championships in Nottwil, Switzerland last year; clocking 49.92s in the 400m and clipping 0.10s off the four-year-old mark which belonged to Germany’s Heinrich Popow with 12.01s in the 100m race.

What remains remarkable is the fact that it only took him four years from undergoing a bilateral through-knee amputation in 2012, the year of the London Games, to claiming his own Paralympic silver at Rio 2016.

“In 2008, when we went to the Beijing Paralympics, bilateral lower limb amputees were not even competing in running events. The only way for a T61 class athlete like Ntando to compete back then was either seated or from a wheelchair.

It is amazing that technology is giving young amputees the opportunity to attend school and be competitive. It is my belief that if we integrate the technology we can change the lives of so many people living with disabilities,” says Johan Snyders; CEO of Icexpress Progressive Prosthetics and founder of the Jumping Kids Fund.

It was through Jumping Kids that Ntando received his prostheses. That led to the opportunity to attend mainstream education, participate in sport, and develop ‘normally’ while adding a few medals along the way.

About his latest achievement in London the Afrikaanse Hoër Seunskool learner simply says, “It was about pushing, a beautiful race. I am working on my start but Mr Whitehead still has the better one”.

 

Written by: Liezel van Rensburg

Photo credit: Pixeltree