Ntando Mahlangu is a rising star in athletics in Africa. He went from not being able to walk to Paralympian in just four years. The South African competes as a runner in events from 100m to 800m and fans call him the blade runner.
‘I won’t lie, the first ten years of my life were hard for me. Being in a wheelchair was you know…I was not capable of doing things. I’ve been bullied in my life because I wasn’t able to walk.
‘It all changed in 2012 when I got my first pair of legs. That’s when I started living and that’s when I started being a child. That’s when I actually started to enjoy my life; knowing more about life and being the guy I am today.
Ntando loved being mobile and got into athletics. After months of training, he made it to the top of athletic competitions, the Paralympic Games, and he made his mark.
‘One of my biggest achievements was Rio, that’s my number one. Even the thing that I qualified to go to Rio was amazing for me. So in my mind I said ‘you know what I’m going to do, I’m going to enjoy Rio. I’m not going to expect big things, I’m still fourteen.’
‘I remember being in the blocks and it’s actually scary when the gun goes and the people in the stadium are just going wild. It was my first time running in such a huge crowd so it was actually a good experience for me.’
Ntando won a silver medal in the T24 race at the Rio Paralympics in Brazil in 2016.
‘The silver was just a little candle on the cake. It’s really not what I expected. I’m not a celebrity. I’m always staying humble. I’m not the best, I’m trying to be the best.’
‘The best is yet to come…I won’t predict when it’ll come but it will surely be in the years to come.’
As the best comes for him, he hopes others begin to see people living with disabilities as ordinary people who can do anything the physically able bodied can do.
‘I never see diabled and abled, a disbaled guy can be president.’
‘I always try to be positive. I think that it is a privilege that I’m living, I’ve got a house, I’ve got food, and those things keep me motivated.’
Even though Ntando loves to run, he actually wants to become an engineer.
‘I have a lot of things on my mind so I change it a lot. Sometimes it’s I want to be a doctor or I want to be an engineer. But I would say engineer. What I do know for sure is, I want to get a degree.’
‘I think what I am doing today is just inspiring people and if I’m inspiring other people then that means I’m doing a good thing.’