Ntando Mahlangu has been a gold medalist contender long before his gold winning performance at the 2019 World Para Athletics Championship that took place in Dubai, UAE. Testament to this is his journey with hemi-melia; a congenital condition that affected both his legs from the knee down. Ntando spent a good portion of his young life in a wheelchair.
In 2012, the year of the London Paralympics, a decision was made to amputate both Ntando’s legs through the knee. He was fitted with his first set of prosthetics at an event organized by Avis South Africa in collaboration with Jumping Kids Prosthetic Fund and IceXpress Progressive Prosthetics.
Jumping Kinds provide affordable prosthetic solutions geared for optimum results while boosting awareness and advocating for change. They believe access to the equipment should include access to better education and sport. Ntando thrived on this, by 2016 Mahlangu had developed into a world-class Para Athlete; winning T42 200m silver for South Africa at the Rio 2016 Paralympics at only 14 years of age. He is widely regarded as one to watch in the build-up to the Tokyo 2020 Games.
Ntando aims to inspire more children to dream big and go for their goals, despite the challenges, by being a good example of what is possible with access to prosthetics, mainstream education and sport.
Ntando received the Sportsman of the Year with a Disability Award at the 2019 South African Sport Awards; certainly well deserved. There is no doubt that Ntando will reach his goal and fulfill his passion to help create opportunities for more kids, facing challenges similar to his own. He wants to equip them; not only on the sports field, but also in the classroom as well as in their day-to-day lives to handle all of life’s issues and to be strong. Ntando tells us more.
Please introduce yourself.
My name is Ntando Mahlangu. I am 17 years old and come from Mpumalanga, South Africa.
Tell us about your condition known as congenital hemimelia and how your journey with Jumping Kids started.
I was born with hemimelia and that is how my journey started with the Jumping Kids Prosthetic Fund. Jumping Kids helped me with prosthetic legs and put me in a mainstream school. The opportunity that Jumping Kids has given me is really something big. It changed my life completely.
What would be a typical day?
Wake up, eat breakfast and go to school. After school it is training that follows, then homework before enjoying some free time which I spend with family or playing Xbox.
A lot has been said about the rivalry between you and Great Britain’s Richard Whitehead. Do the two of you encourage and inspire each other?
Yes. We give each other advice and share thoughts on how to become better athletes than what we are right now.
Describe the feeling when you realized you have won Gold in the men’s 200m T61 at the recent World Para-Athletics Championships in Dubai.
It is very difficult to explain my exact feeling at that time. It was definitely one to remember because … most of the time I don’t cross the finish line first. It was really nice.
Eluid Kipchoge, the first man to run a marathon in sub two hours lives by “No human is limited.” He wanted to show to the world that when you focus on your goal, work hard believe in yourself, anything is possible. Would you agree?
I agree. If you put yourself up for a challenge, and you focus and try your best, anything is possible.
Describe what the ultimate athlete means to you.
Personally, I think it is about remaining humble and disciplined towards everyone and everything around you.
How do you stay motivated?
The people who surround me keep me motivated at all times. Sometimes, when I feel down, they remind me about a few important things and keep me motivated.
What has been your most rewarding experience up to date?
Everything that 2019 has brought me is wonderful. I’d say this was one of my best seasons so far.
Who is your Role model?
My role model is Akani Simbini. (South African Sprinter, Winner of 2018 Commonwealth Games 100m.)
What do you do in your spare time?
I play Xbox with friends and family most of the time.
What is your greatest indulgence?
Staying true to myself and others, and being humble most of the time.
Name two people you would like to meet and why.
Casper Nyovest, (South African Rapper) I just like how he does things and his taste in clothing is too much.
Our President, I do not have a specific reason, just to meet him and share some thoughts on some things.
What is your favorite social media platform?
What’s on your playlist?
Ha-ha, my playlist is very simple. I prefer to listen to piano and gospel music.
What are your future plans?
I would like to go to Texas in the United States of America for my tertiary studies in Engineering. I hope to someday attain my PhD.
Name your favorite quote or mantra to live by.
When we are free to move anything is possible.