Teenage Paralympic silver medalist Ntando Mahlangu sees himself as 'just another kid'
When Team SA arrived back in Johannesburg on Tuesday morning from the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro‚ one athlete drew the loudest applause from the gathered well-wishers at OR Tambo International Airport - teenage silver medalist Ntando Mahlangu.
The 14-year-old was welcomed home by loud roars of “Ntando! Ntando! Ntando!”.
But despite the adulation‚ the level-headed high school pupil still sees himself as “just another kid”.
“That does not change me‚ I am still the same person that I’ve always been‚” Mahlangu said about the attention he has received since winning the silver medal in the 200m sprints in Brazil.
“I don’t think I am famous or anything like that. I’m still a 14-year-old kid going to school who is not better than anyone else.”
Mahlangu is a double amputee and only learnt how to run four years ago after the 2012 Paralympic Games in London.
He is convinced nothing will change in his routine – school remains his main priority‚ while being on the track remains only “something I like”.
“Like I do always‚ after school I go to training and after training I go do my homework. School is my first priority‚ sport comes second. Sport is not work for me‚ but just something that I like‚” he said.
The teenager’s “hobby” has earned him a few Rands in his bank account and it doesn't hurt that he harbours dreams of claiming more medals and becoming one of the most decorated SA Paralympians‚
The silver medal he received in Rio earned him prize money of R200 000 from Sascoc and an additional R30 000 from the sports ministry‚ with his coach also getting a share of the spoils.
The money is the least of Mahlangu’s priorities at the moment.
The teenager indicated that he would have a meeting with his family and decide what to do with his winnings.
“I don’t know about that (what to do with the winnings)‚ we (family) are going to have a meeting‚” he said.
“But I do not think I will have a hand in my money‚ I’m still young. I think I will just put it in a trust and only when I am 18 years old I can take charge of my money.”
What is on top of his priorities list after the few weeks in Brazil is to spend time at home with his family.
“They are very happy‚ they have been sending me messages telling me how happy they are. I can’t wait to be with my family‚” he said.
Mahlangu’s silver was one of 17 medals that the Paralympics team returned with from Rio.
The Games were one of the best by Team SA‚ who finished 22nd on the overall medal standings in Brazil with seven gold‚ six silver and four bronze medals. - TMG Digital