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Nkomazi athlete scoops silver in world championships

A professional athlete, Collen Mahlalela, recently found stakeholders and family members waiting for him to welcome him back home after he had competed in the 2024 World Para Athletics Championships.

A professional athlete, Collen Mahlalela, won a silver medal in the men’s 400m T47 at the 2024 World Para Athletics Championships in Kobe, Japan.

On his return, the Mpumalanga Department of Culture, Sport and Recreation (DCSR) held a welcome-back event on Monday May 27 to honour him.

On his arrival at the KMI Airport, he found various stakeholders and family members were waiting for him.
Mahlalela is a professional athlete from eMasibekela in Nkomazi, living with a disability.

Thenjiwe Mahlalela and Collen Mahlalela. Photos: Facebook/DCSR

The DCSR’s HOD, Godfrey Ntombela, hosted a celebratory luncheon for Mahlalela at 34 on Saturn on Thursday May 30. During this event, Ntombela handed him a cheque for R50 000.

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Like any other excelling athlete from a disadvantaged background, Mahlalela says finances tend to be a challenge in his quest for greatness in the sporting world.

He said he was grateful to the Bambanani Mlambo Trust, Inkosi Mlambo II and the DCSR for their support.

“The Bambanani Mlambo Trust has been supporting me through some of the trips, such as the Dubai one. The trips overseas can be a stretch financially, coupled with medical check-ups and the costs for a personal trainer. One needs a serious budget to ensure everything is in order while getting ready for these big competitions. I appreciate the DSCR for the cheque,” he said.

Mahlalela said he wants to thank Mpumalanga, the people of Nkomazi and community members of eMasibekela for their support while he was competing in Japan. He said he never thought he could be where he currently is in his career.

“I never thought I could get this far. I am now ranking number three in the men’s 400m T47 in the world. When I left South Africa for Japan, I was ranking number 28. Before I left, I used to run 51.09s to complete the race. When I got to Japan, in the first heat, I ran 49.32s and took position two. In the finals, I ran 48.66s,” he said.

Before he left for Japan, Kobe told the newspaper that as soon as he gets back at the end of May, the 2024 Paralympic Games in Paris will be his next stop.

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He participated at the World Para Athletics Grand Prix 2024 in Dubai from February 7 to 15, where he won two medals, a silver and a bronze.

“I came out second in the 400m and third in long jump. I have also participated in the Toyota Championship, which was hosted in Bloemfontein in the last week of March, when I broke the African record on the 400m by 51.09s and received a gold medal. I have also received a gold medal for long jump. The Toyota National Championship has been a field for me to constantly break my own record as I have been participating and winning since 2022, consecutively,” said Mahlalela.

“Nothing beats determination and focus. Anyone living with a disability should not allow that to hinder them in any way, because anything is possible if you believe and work on it. My disability was a result of a fire accident that emanated from a paraffin light when I was just four months old. I did not let that deter me from doing what I love and what I am capable of.”

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