Tebogo Mofokeng hits the ground running in international race
A teenager without legs went from learning how to move around on athletic prosthetic blades to running in an international race within two months.
Tebogo Mofokeng, 18, from Winterveldt in Tshwane was among a group of youngsters from SADC countries who benefited from a project to train technicians how to make the sporting blades.
Mofokeng returned from competing in the International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports (Iwas) Federation Youth World Games in Athlone, Ireland, yesterday.
The games have helped many athletes launch their careers on the international stage for more than a decade.
This year, 165 athletes from 16 countries participated in the event. Mofokeng spent a week competing against athletes from across the globe in three races, including the 400m where he came third.
Before receiving the blades, Mofokeng, who lost both legs to an illness, was using normal prosthetics, which limited his physical activity. But, within two months of trying out the prosthetic blades, he was able to prepare for the tournament.
"I was shocked when I was invited to compete in Ireland because I was still getting used to the blades. But I had faith in God and focused on my training," he told Sowetan yesterday.
Mofokeng said his mother, Sinah Mofokeng, 50, used to accompany him to a sports field in Hatfield, Pretoria, to train - three days a week.
He said he also received intensive training for two days after arriving in Ireland.
"It was a great experience and I learned a lot of things. I believe I could have done better but I had little time to prepare. My dream is to work hard and run in the Paralympic Games," he said.
His mother said he always wanted to be on the world stage like former Paralympian and convicted murderer Oscar Pistorius. "He was a very active child who enjoyed soccer but he couldn't run with the other prosthetics," she said.
She said Mofokeng had to drop out of school in Grade 10 because she could no longer afford the fees for private institution as no one at home was employed. She said they depended on her husband's pension grant to survive.
Tebogo's father Johannes Mofokeng, 70, said: "I've always had a pain in my heart because he struggled without legs as a child. But today I'm happy because his dreams are coming true."