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Pinetown-born all-rounder to compete in Tokyo Paralympics finals

Mpumelelo Mhlongo, set to compete in finals at Tokyo Paralympics on Monday: Picture: Supplied

Mpumelelo Mhlongo, set to compete in finals at Tokyo Paralympics on Monday: Picture: Supplied

Published Aug 29, 2021

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DURBAN: Local athlete Mpumelelo “Mpumi” Mhlongo has beaten great odds to run third in his Men’s 100m T64 heat, at the Paralympics in Tokyo on Sunday, earning him a grand chance to compete in the final at 1.43pm, South African time, on Monday.

Described as an exceptionally talented all-rounder and leader, Mhlongo grew up in Pinetown and matriculated with seven distinctions, in 2012, from Kearsney College in Botha’s Hill.

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He was head of house, head of the acclaimed Kearsney College choir, which brought home the gold at the World Choir Games, captain of the school’s second soccer team, and a top academic, achieving academic honours Cum Laude.

The multi-lingual Mhlongo speaks six languages with pride – isiZulu, English, Afrikaans, isiXhosa, French and Portuguese – and is a five-time “Sportsperson of the Year” at the University of Cape Town, where he studied for a PhD in chemical engineering, focusing on converting recycled plastic to diesel.

“He was born with a congenital disorder, which left his right foot severely deformed and the chance of amputation strong, and the development of his fingers was also affected,” said Sue Miles, spokesperson for Mhlongo.

“His commitment to athletic training at the highest international level, while completing his PhD, was undertaken in tandem with raising awareness for those with disabilities, as well as seeking to improve the health care space in South Africa,” said Miles.

“In 2019, his recognition as a Young Mandela and being included on the Mail and Guardian 200 Young South Africans list was the result of his lobbying of the International Paralympic Committee to revise their classification rules, and to separate blade runners and jumpers from people with lower limb deficiencies,” she said.

THE MERCURY

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