Cape Town – Diagnosed with Spina Bifida Myelomeningocele at birth and having her leg amputated at just 18 months old, Nokuthula Yonke has not let her physical limitations stop her from being a stellar athlete.
Now 18, the teenager from Delft is making waves in the world of sport and now hopes to represent South Africa at the Para-Athletic Junior World Championships in Switzerland later this year.
She needs funding of R45 000 to ensure she gets to make it to the games.
Yonke was unsupervised as a toddler when she pulled on the cord of a kettle and was burnt with hot water.
“I lived with my father’s sister and she worked and left me with her teen kids, they were around 11 and 12.
“I was basically unsupervised. They said I woke up and crawled to the kitchen and pulled the kettle and it fell on my leg and the water burnt me.
“I was not taken to hospital and only taken a few weeks after that. When I arrived the wound was infected and they tried to treat it, but doctors saw it was not healing and the infection was in the bone.
“They had to wait until I was three for amputation but because the infection was so bad they had to do it and I was only a year and six months old,” she said.
Yonke said after the operation she only woke up the following day and doctors were worried because she was so young at the time of the surgery.
“After that, they didn’t give me back to my parents and I lived at homes and with relatives and at times teachers. I was diagnosed with depression when I was in Grade 7,” she said.
She said life has not been easy but now as a pupil at Eros School in Athlone, she started playing sport in 2016 and is determined to not let what she has been through get the best of her.
“I never thought I would do sports, but it has changed my life. I didn’t believe it would until I started playing,” she said.
Sports representative at the school Charnay Habelgaarn said Yonke was an outstanding athlete and deserves the chance to show her talent at the competition.
“She portrays an immense amount of passion and dedication as an athlete and continues to work hard at improving her skills in athletic field events.
“She has been competing as a Western Province Sport for the Physically Disabled athlete for the last four years and was the runner-up for Cape Town Science Centre Sports Woman with a Disability in 2018,” Habelgaarn said.
She said Yonke won gold in shot-put and javelin and bronze in discus and also broke the South African javelin record.
Habelgaarn said Yonke was also assisting her hostel peers with athletics training after school.
“She is truly a remarkable young lady and an inspiration to all who meet her. Regardless of her physical limitations she always tries her best in everything she does and believes that nothing is impossible for her,” Habelgaarn said.