Once worried about being held back by the quality of his shoes, Cape Town disabled athlete Rouvaun Wallace showed his ability on the international stage, winning his finals heat and earning his first medal at the World Para Athletics Junior Championships in Switzerland.
Although he was going for gold, Wallace was satisfied on Thursday with placing third in the under-20 200m race for disability classification T38, which includes athletes with co-ordination impairments and who may have a slight limp.
“I got bronze, but it’s fine. It’s still a medal,” the teenager from Ravensmead said.
“My time improved and I am feeling great about it.”
Wallace had hoped to return with gold as a thank you to every donor who helped him make it to the international event where he is participating for top honours in the 100m, 200m and 400m as well as long jump events.
More than R50 000 was raised to get him to Nottwil after News24 published his story. Readers raised almost R10 000 in two days, while Minister in the Presidency for Women, Youth and People with Disabilities Maite Nkoana-Mashabane’s office was approached by Coca-Cola who donated R50 000 toward his trip.
A private donor had also sponsored him with R5 000. He was chosen by the South African Sports Association for Physically Disabled Para Athletics’ selection committee to represent South Africa at the self-funded event.
Wallace suffers from a leg disability as his right leg is shorter and disproportionate to the other one. His condition was diagnosed after a soccer injury in 2017.
Wallace and 26 other athletes selected for the championships have already been earmarked for the next Paralympic team.
The championships end on Sunday.