GRADUATE: Kerwin Noemdo, 23, represented SA at the World Paralympics Athletics Championships in London. Picture: Stefan Els
Cape Town - Kerwin Noemdo, the Paralympian, who represented South Africa in several international games was awarded a BSc degree in conservation ecology on Wednesday.

The student from Bellville said “more than anything else” he is relieved to be graduating. He was awarded the degree at the University of Stellenbosch’s fifth graduation ceremony.

“I had to extend my four-year programme to five years because of my participation in several sports events all over the globe.

“It’s truly a weight off my shoulders to know that I have finally completed the degree because it was beginning to feel as if I’d been here on the Maties campus forever.” The 23 year old also represented South Africa in the International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports World Games in 2011 and the World Championships in 2011.

However, his most prominent moment came when he was chosen to represent South Africa at the World Paralympics Athletics Championship in July.

Noemdo competes in shot put. He said his sporting ability was recognised by his friend’s mother, who persuaded him to start competing at the age of eight.

His days start with an hour workout session in the gym, five days a week. “My coach always encourages me to take what he calls ‘active breaks’, which simply means that I am not allowed to just sit around and be unfit even during those breaks,” he said.

Noemdo was born with a smaller deformed hand and after two years his parents decided to have it amputated. “I have never needed to be treated differently because there is nothing wrong with me.”

Initially, he was sceptical about competing in Paralympic sports, but adds: “There is nothing like representing your country and wearing those green and gold colours.”

He intends to enrol for a Master’s degree before looking for a job. “I would love to become a wildlife manager at a nature reserve, while doing sports on the side hopefully coaching.”

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Cape Argus