By Athletics South Africa
14 YEAR-OLD SENSATION ROCKS ASA SUB-YOUTH, YOUTH, JUNIOR & U23 CHAMPIONSHIPS
The ASA Sub-Youth, Youth, Junior and Under 23 Championships which ended on Saturday (yesterday), certainly left many in awe as 14 year-old double amputee and World Paralympic record holder and champion, Ntando Mahlangu set the track ablaze.
The unassuming Mahlangu from Tshwane, sent fans to their feet as he took his able bodied opponents to the wire with a sensational Boys under 16 Sub-Youth 400m run, which clocked him a new seniors’ world best of 50.08 seconds in the Disabled T42 class.
His exploits on Saturday earned him a bronze medal and the heart of the fans who rose to acknowledge each step that he took.
The unofficial mark, more than three seconds faster than his official world record set at the Nedbank National Championships for Physically Disabled in Bloemfontein last month, will not be considered as a new record as it was set in an able-bodied race where there was no accredited International Paralympic Committee official.
Mahlangu went on to anchor his Gauteng North 400m relay team, where he was again the star attraction with his late kick around the 120m mark.
His coach, Cathy Landsberg, was nonetheless delighted with his performance as he continued to make huge strides, less than four years after receiving his first set of prosthetics from the Jumping Kids Foundation and walked for the first time since he was born.
“His stronger event is the 200m. That’s where he started off,” Landsberg said. “Someone said he should try the 400m, and he’s just been excelling at it, but he’s excellent in the 200m as well.”
Mahlangu has already achieved the A-qualifying standards in the 100m and 200m events for the Paralympic Games, but there is no 400m race in his class at the Rio showpiece.
Should he turn out over the shorter distances at the multi-sport Games, Mahlangu said he hoped to be even quicker, with five months left to prepare and improve before turning out against the world’s most accomplished disabled athletes.
“I need to work on my speed and just get used to the blades,” a shy, but happy Mahlangu said.