Paralympian Mould digs deep to finish the race

Cyclist cheered up by fellow athlete

03 September 2021 - 09:11
By Kevin McCallum
Toni Mould.
Image: INSTAGRAM Toni Mould.

On a quiet day for the SA team at the Tokyo Paralympics yesterday, when a breath was taken and shoulders squared for the final rush at the last few days, one of its athletes was joined in a moment that said as much about what these Games are about as any amount of medals could.

As SA’s Toni Mould dug deep down the main straight of the Fuji Speedway with a lap to go, well off the pace of the leaders and the best part of an hour behind them in horrid conditions, an Australian competitor in the men’s race slowed up and rode alongside her.

Stuart Jones, the 52-year-old who had fallen off the front bunch in his race and had suffered disappointment in his time trial earlier in the week when he dropped a chain, told Mould, the first female cyclist at a Paralympics for SA to keep on going.

Mould smiled through the pain and the exhaustion, and turned her head to him. She was the most impaired athlete in her combined class, her quadriplegic cerebral palsy seeing her body fighting her mind as hard as the course around the Fuji Speedway had. She roared and went on, a little harder and a lot happier.

She finished eighth, 51 minutes and 19 seconds behind the winner, Jana Majunke of Germany, who won in 1:00.58. But, she finished. She was the final rider to cross the line. Three others did not finish, but Mould kept on keeping on.

“Keep going. You’re going great guns. You have only got a lap to go,” Jones told her. “Look, I wasn’t going to podium,” Jones told Australian television after finishing sixth. “That lady, Toni from South Africa, that is a true champion. That’s what the Paralympics are about.”

Mould had to raise money through crowd-funding for her journey to these Games. That money helped her upgrade her old tricycle, and helped her fund the online training needed during the Covid-19 lockdown. The 37-year-old’s main income still comes from crowd-funding. It is a common parasport problem.