In this very first sports article for Jambo Africa Online, MASEGO MOKHINE, shares with us her inspirational story of triumph over adversity.

I’m a young woman who was born in Soweto, Johannesburg. I was born with a disability called Congenital Malformation of a right hand and a left leg (means my left leg is shorter than my right leg and I have 3 fingers on my right hand). I’m surrounded by a loving family of a mother, three sisters, one younger brother, two nieces and a nephew.

I was raised by my grandmother in Dobsonville. Though disabled, I attended a mainstream crèche but was later taken to Adelaide Tambo School where I started my Grade R till I passed Grade 12. I then started taking part in sport in 1999, when I was about 12/13.

After I passed my matric as the top learner in Gauteng above all the learners with special educational needs (LSEN), I went to the University of Johannesburg where I completed my Sport Management National Diploma, majoring and Physiol- ogy and Public Relations.

Below are my achievements from School, University till now in a yearly sequence:

Year-by-year achievements

  • 1999 – Started sport in 3 field events code namely javelin, shot-put and dis- • cus and came back with 3 Gold medals.
  • 2000 – I added 4 more sporting codes, namely 100m, 200m, long jump and table tennis bringing back 7 gold medals home.
  • 2001 – 7 Gold Medals and added wheelchair basketball.
  • 2002 – Selected to represent South Arica in France Lille (My 1st time going overseas at the age of 16) at the World Championships in the 200m and Javelin. I came 7th in 200m and 4th in Javelin.
  • During the same year, I was also se- lected to play for a KZN wheelchair basketball Men’s Team making me the 1st woman to play in the Men’s league.
  • 2003 – I achieved 8 Gold medals and played for a Central Gauteng team Boys Team in Wheelchair Basketball.
  • 2004 – Completed my matric being top of Gauteng LSEN and I was extensively profiled in many major newspa- pers and magazines. Medals were still flowing in.
  • 2005 – I lived in an orphanage called Home of Hope in Berea, Johannersburg, as I lost my grandmother and suffered scathing psychological problems. This gave me an opportunity to learn about life in general and the ex- periences of others. I was then ap- pointed an administrative assistant to the social worker who took care of us and I was also volunteered in many social responsibility projects we had. I also entered Miss Confidence SA where I won the Miss Personality and Miss Photogenic.
  • 2006 – Started studying at the Uni- versity of Johannesburg and also con- tinued with my sport. Later in the year I started a disability sport club. During the holidays I would make calls to register my friends from different provinces to come participate at the UJ in order to increase the numbers.
  • 2007 – I was awarded the “Sport Woman of the Year” in the Disability category. Later in the year, I added another code named adaptive Rowing. We went to Guatemala to Qualify for the Beijing Paralympic Games with the wheelchair basketball team but came 3rd and only the 1st 2 teams qualified.
  • 2008 – I travelled to Germany to qualify for the Beijing Paralympic Games and we were successful in qualifying, and the cherry on top was that I became the 1st African (black) woman to row in the world. In Beijing we took position 8 over 16 teams and we were honoured with a diploma. I finally got 1st runner-up of the Sport Woman of the Year in UJ.
  • 2009 – I was chosen to participate at the International Wheelchair and Am- putee Sport Games in India where I came 3rd in shot-put and won a gold medal in Javelin with a PB and a new African Record.
  • 2010 – I started working for different companies and still participated in sport. There wasn’t much happening as the focus was on soccer since SA was hosting the FIFA World Cup.
  • 2011 – Rowing SA called me to help qualify for the London Paralympics and unfortunately we came 4th and only 2 teams went through because some got an automatic qualification. The Championships were held in Bled Slovenia.
  • 2012 – I missed the London Paralympic Qualifications in India for Wheelchair Basketball because unfortunately we were beaten by Mexico in 3 Games. Though we lost, overall I was the highest top goal scorer and I was given such recognition. Later in the year I had another opportunity to qualify for athletics but unfortunately I had food poisoning and ended up in hospital.

Same year, the SABC invited me as one of the sport analysts for the Paralympic Games and the advantage was that I knew 99% of the athletes who went there.

  • 2013 – I worked at the Gauteng Sport Council as a Sport Coordinator which involved working on improving sport for persons with disabilities first in Gauteng and hopefully one day we’ll cover entire South Africa. 

Same year, I was a finalist at the Gauteng Sport Awards for the category: Disability Sport Woman of the Year. Unfortunately, I didn’t win.

All in all, despite my disabilities, I have received 185 Gold Medals; 4 Silver Medals; and three Bronze Medals. And furthermore, I have won 28 trophies in different sporting codes and academy achievements – and these accolades include the “Most Valuable Player”, “Top Student”, “Best Female Athlete” and the “Most Improved Athlete”.

I have also established the Masego Mokhine Foundation – a not for profit company looking at using sports to empower people with disabilities. Public and private sector institutions willing to partner with me could reach out me at msg.mokhine@gmail.com

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Masego Makhine will be co-hosted on Power98,7 FM (DSTV Channel 889) on Thursday, 12 November 2020, by Jambo Africa Online’s Publisher, Saul Molobi, with veteran radio presenter, Thabiso Kotane, to share her story with the broader public.