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Mon Mar 27 02:48:06 SAST 2017

SA Paralympic star contemplates life away from competitive swimming after Dubai offer

Chumani Bambani | 2016-09-21 12:51:53.0
Singer Khanyo Maphumulo dances with Paralympic swimmer Kevin Paul during the Welcoming ceremony of Team South Africa from the Rio 2016 Paralympics at OR Tambo Airport on September 20, 2016 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Image by: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images

Three-time Paralympic Games swimming medalist Kevin Paul will be shifting focus after claiming gold in Rio recently.

After winning three medals in three Paralympic Games‚ Paul has agreed to take up a sports administration and swimming coaching job in Dubai.

“I’ve now been to three Paralympic Games‚ it’s been a long haul. I’m very happy and fortunate for the opportunities that have come my way‚” the decorated swimmer told Times Media Digital.

“I have another opportunity now in the United Arab Emirates. I will be moving to Dubai where I have been offered a job there.

“It’s great that I will still be involved with swimming and sport‚ and will still have the opportunity to train and compete. I am looking forward to the future.

"I am going to be working at a place called Fit Republik‚ it will involve swimming coaching‚ administration.”

The Port Elizabeth-born swimming star shot to fame when he claimed gold as a 17-year-old at the 2008 Games in Beijing in the 100m breaststroke‚ an event he has dominated since.

In 2012 he returned with silver from the London Games before reclaiming his crown in Brazil and earning Team SA’s first gold medal at this year’s event.

Does this mean it is the end of the road for the former Grey High School pupil in terms of representing South Africa at international events?

Paul has not yet made a decision on whether the Rio Games were his last as an athlete.

While the 25-year-old - who has been based in Durban under the mentorship of revered swimming coach Graham Hill since completing his schooling seven years ago - will be working in Dubai‚ he will also have an opportunity to continue with his training.

He revealed that he will only make a final decision on whether to continue swimming competitively if he feels that he can still compete at a top level.

“I won’t count it out‚” Paul said.

“Four years is a very long time to keep yourself motivated. I will have the opportunity to continue to train there (Dubai)‚ so I will see how the training goes.

“As a proud South African I don’t want to wear the green and gold when I don’t feel like I am at peak performance.

"If I feel I can still make the country proud‚ then I will again put that green cap on.

"If I feel I am not‚ then it will be time to step aside and let the youngsters come through.”

Following his Paralympic medals and numerous world championship titles‚ Paul is regarded as one of the top 100m breaststroke swimmers and has earned himself legendary status.

What legacy would he like to leave in the sport?

“Medals and performances are one thing‚ but I think I have learnt so many life lessons through all these travels‚ performances and competitions‚” Paul said.

“One thing I always believe is that your name is the first gift you receive in life and also the last thing people will remember when you pass one day.

"I just want people to remember my name in a good way‚ not necessarily as the gold medallist‚ but rather to leave an imprint and legacy in a way to make the most of what you’ve got.

"Stop complaining because there are people with much less than you out there.”

- TMG Digital

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