Zandile Nhlapo is heading for Rio de Janeiro to take part in her second Paralympic Games, where she will represent South Africa in not one but two sporting events.
“I’m ecstatic to have been selected for Rio 2016, since London 2012 was such an amazing experience,” says Zandile, who works in the billings department at Netcare Mulbarton Hospital, south of Johannesburg.
Zandile will be taking part in the Women’s javelin and shot put events at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, to be held in September.
“It is an absolute honour to represent my country at the Paralympics. There will be 80 000 people watching in the stadium and the whole world will be watching on television,” she enthuses.
“At the 2012 London Games I met a lot of people from many other countries and cultures, and I am very much looking forward to getting to know more athletes from around the world and sharing this wonderful experience with them and my teammates.”
Zandile says that her colleagues at Netcare Mulbarton Hospital have always been very supportive of her sporting achievements. “When I broke the news that I was going to the Rio 2016 Paralympics to my colleagues in the billings department, I could not believe how excited they were.
They went running all over the hospital to spread the word and soon people were coming up to me from other departments, congratulating me and wishing me luck,” she says.
In March this year, Zandile, who lives with cerebral palsy, paved the way for her second Paralympic Games when she competed in the Nedbank National Championships for the Physically Disabled. At this event she broke the African record for javelin and the South African record for shot put in the women’s open category.
Since Zandile started competing in international events in 2001, she has continually pushed herself to take her athletic prowess to new levels. She says that this has boosted her confidence, and benefitted her in other spheres of her life.
Zandile was employed in Netcare Mulbarton Hospital’s billings department in 2013 and has since successfully completed a learnership offered by Netcare, through the group’s Sinako Project, which was launched in 2012 to assist unemployed young South Africans with disabilities to enter the mainstream economy.
The project offers structured internships and learnerships in a number of fields to provide opportunities for people with a disability to develop knowledge and skills that will afford them real opportunities in the workplace.
“What I am looking forward to the most about the Rio Paralympic Games, is the experience of being in a different country, celebrating sports and the achievement of every person who has made it to this point. It is not just about winning or competing against others; it is about doing your best and celebrating sportsmanship.
“On an individual level, this is also wonderful international exposure and experience, and I am very proud to be setting off to my second Paralympics at the end of August,” Zandile adds.
“What is quite exciting is that I will be celebrating my 32nd birthday during the Games in Brazil, and I cannot think of anything I would rather be doing to mark the occasion.”
Nellie Koen, general manager of Netcare Mulbarton Hospital, congratulated Zandile on her achievement and wished her all the very best ahead of the Games. “We are exceptionally proud of Zandile and all she has achieved, on the sportsfield and also here at the hospital. She is an inspiration to all of us and we will be rooting for her, as well as for the entire South African Paralympic team,” she concluded.
Issued by: Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare Mulbarton Hospital
Contact : Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Meggan Saville
Telephone: (011) 469 3016
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