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Masego Mokhine once graced the front page of Sowetan in 2005 after her achievements in matric, when she was among the best matriculants in Gauteng.
She went on to make a name for herself as a sportswoman in disabled sport.
Mokhine did not allow her disability - she has a congenital malformation of the right hand and left leg - to stand in her way.
The petite 21-year-old is riding the crest of the wave after she qualified for the Paralympics in Beijing in September. She is the only athlete of colour in a four-member rowing squad that will represent South Africa.
Mokhine opened her heart to Sowetan sports writer Mcelwa Nchabeleng.
Mcelwa Nchabeleng (MN): How does it feel to be part of the SA Paralympics team?
Masego Mokhine (MM): Going to the Paralympics is my greatest achievement yet. I'm highly encouraged and looking forward to representing my country with aplomb in Beijing. It will be my first time, but I don't have any butterflies in my stomach. I have competed in different sporting codes at international level and I'm well aware of the pressure that goes with such competitions.
MN: You managed to make it in less than a year after you joined rowing. What is the secret to your success?
MM: Focus, teamwork and sheer commitment?
MN: How did you join this rare sport?
MM: The idea of joining rowing was sold to me and other students by coach Adrian Higgins in October 2007. We were about 11 and we did not know the sport but we developed the eagerness to be part of it. To me it sounded like a very challenging yet exciting sport. We trained hard with the junior team. I was then drafted into the senior squad in January and, as they say, the rest is history.
MN: What is needed for one to be a good rower?
MM: You need to have team spirit because rowing is a team sport. This sport is not for lazy people because it requires a high level of hard work and dedication. We are involved in adaptive rowing and it is physically challenging. We train hard daily and over the weekend to gain enough stamina for paddling.
MN: Tell us about other sporting codes that you are involved in?
MM: I take part in javelin, wheelchair basketball, discus and shot put. We have played in France and Namibia.
MN: How did you qualify for the Paralympics?
MM: We qualified after securing third position at the world qualifiers in Munich, Germany.
MN: You did not allow your disability to preclude you from making the grade in sports. How did you manage that?
MM: The word disability has never been part of my vocabulary. I told myself that I can do anything that other people can do. My achievements are through God and He is the one who has made me a successful sportswoman.