Aspiring for Beijing

In 2005 Sibusiso Mogale made headlines when he was awarded the courage award at the Telkom Midmar Mile race after swimming the 1.6 km Halfway Telkom Midmar Mile race. A few months later he became the first black swimmer to win a gold medal in the 100m breaststroke in the England Open Championships for the Disabled held at Sheffield in England.

Since then the Mpumalanga born athlete has come a long way. He reached the final in the World Disabled Championships held in Durban last year. He also won a number of medals at the Central Gauteng Swimming Championships held last December. He even has a swimming pool and rehabilitation centre named after him in Vanderbijlpark called the ‘Sibusiso Mogale Swim and Rehabilitation Centre’.

When asked about this, he laughs, almost embarrassed. “I was actually speechless when they phoned me and asked my permission to name the centre after me. I was in such awe.”

But Sibusiso has worked hard. In December 2006 he swam in the International Paralympic Committee’s (IPC) World Swimming Championships in Durban and came eighth in the men’s S6 100m backstroke in 1:47.06. In that same year he was recognised at swimming South Africa’s Athlete of the Year awards with the Disabled Athlete Special Mention.

While training everyday Sibusiso is also writing his matric at Bishop Bavin School in Bedfordview. The school as been very understanding of his hectic schedule. “They have been fantastic. I am writing half my matric this year and the other half next year because of my training schedule.” Sibusiso is a boarder at the school as is Shireen Sapiro, another Paralympic hopeful. With the final team for the Beijing Paralympics to be announced in June, it is no wonder his schedule is so busy.

“It is my dream to participate in Beijing this year. I am hoping that I make the final squad. I compete in the 50m and 100m breaststroke and the 50m and 100m butterfly as well as the 200m individual medley. I would like to participate in all these events in Beijing.”

“It would be so awesome for me to make the team. Like having the centre named after me, I would be so excited,” says the level-headed, down-toearth 19 year old.

Swimming he says has changed his life. “When I started swimming at Hope School, I did not realise the impact swimming would have on my life. I still am amazed today when people recognize me or notice me.” But he should not be. This athlete has really overcome all odds and is sure to be included in the swimming squad for Beijing. He is an inspiration to everyone who comes into contact with him.

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