June 15, 2024

By Palesa  Manaleng 

Nododomzi Jonathan Ntutu is among the athletes currently in France preparing to compete at the World Para Athletics Championships from 8 to 17 July.

JOHANNESBURG – South Africa’s fastest para-athlete, a Paralympian and an award-winning athlete are just a few titles that Nododomzi Jonathan Ntutu has next to his name.

“Mentally, I am in a great place. My training gives me confidence and motivates me to achieve more. The 2023 World Champs will be the best stepping stone for the 2024 Paralympic Games. I am working towards the podium in Paris. I definitely want a medal in both 2023/24,” said Ntutu to Eyewitness News.

Ntutu is among the athletes currently in France preparing to compete at the World Para Athletics Championships from 8 to 17 July.

The South African team comprises a great blend of experienced athletes who have excelled at various international para events. Among them, are Paralympians Zanele Situ, Tyron Pillay, Louzanne Coetzee, Liezel Gouws, Sheryl James, Mpumelelo Mhlongo and Pieter du Preez.

“I am very well, I am healthy and have been training well. Coach Raymond Julius has tweaked my start a wee bit. We are working to get used to it and hoping that could be a game changer once the World Championships start next week,” said Ntutu.

The championships are crucial in the athletes’ pursuit of securing slots for the 2024 Paris Paralympic Games. Any athlete finishing in the top 4 or better will qualify for one slot.

“I do not believe that Para Athletics gets the attention it deserves in South Africa. The only attention that is given is when athletes return from Paralympic Games with medals. That only lasts 3-4 months in a four-year cycle. That is never enough to make an impact or grow in popularity in a country. ASA themselves need to do better in accounting for Para Athletics.”

The World Athletics Championships are the second most important sporting event in the disabled sports calendar after the Paralympic Games and are held every two years.

The Gugulethu-born athlete is a 100m sprinter in the T12 category (runners with a visual impairment), and become the fastest South African para-athlete at the 2018 Commonwealth Games when he clocked 10.80 seconds in the men’s 100m T12 heats.

In 2018, he was crowned SA’S Sportsman of the Year with a Disability, won a bronze medal at the 2012 London Paralympic Games, a silver medal at the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games and is a two-time African Union Sports Council Region 5 Regional Annual Sports Award winner.

The 37-year-old sprinter, who hopes to bring home a medal from the World Para Athletics Championships, said he would like to see more opportunities to represent the country being given to para-athletes and to see corporates and the country as a whole rallying behind disabled athletes.

“Corporate SA is not open to helping people with disability in sports. We aren’t getting enough media coverage, we need more of our stories being told. I am 37, and I still feel I am not as well known or my story isn’t known out there. I want to urge South Africa to work together and be more open to giving disability sports a bigger platform.”

Ntombizanele Situ, Tezna Abrahams, Sheryl James, Louzanne Coetzee, Liezel Gouws, Yane van der Merwe, Juane le Roux, Simone Kruger, Ndodomzi Ntutu, Mpumelelo Mhlongo, Puseletso Mabote, Tebogo Mofokeng, Refilwe Mosifane, Jaco Smit, Kerwin Noemdo, Tyrone Pillay, Brandon Beack, Pieter du PreezGuides: Erasmus Badenhorst, Clause Kempen.

Source: EWN
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