Runner Xolani Luvunu says his life changed after he was saved from drugs and street life.Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency/ANA
Runner Xolani Luvunu says his life changed after he was saved from drugs and street life.Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency/ANA

Xolani steps up to reach his goals

By Sakhile Ndlazi Time of article published Dec 27, 2017

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WHILE most always find an excuse for not exercising, there is a man who went out on a limb to reach his goals.

After being orphaned at a young age, losing a limb to bone marrow cancer, sleeping in the streets for years and fighting drug addiction, Xolani Luvunu has his sights on completing the gruelling 89km Comrades Marathon.

The 33 year old has been through quite a lot and his life hasn’t been a walk in the park. He moved to Pretoria from the Eastern Cape in search of a brighter future, but ended up begging at traffic light in Centurion.

A hero without a cape, Hein Venter, rescued Luvunu from the streets and gave him a prosthetic leg. After tremendous help, patience, and care from Venter, Luvunu began a new, drug and cancer-free life.

Since he received his prosthetic leg in May, he has never looked back and is making full potential of it.

Eight months down the line, Luvunu has run more than 50 races and is still yearning for more. “What better way than to use your leg and show appreciation than running,” said Luvunu.

He has completed numerous 10km races, the Soweto Marathon and ran a marathon in Hong Kong last month. Next on his bucket list is the Comrades Marathon.

“The Comrades is not just about physical ability. It is about sheer determination and spirit. It’s more than just receiving a medal for me. It is about conquering myself and inspiring others to do the same. Too often we focus on what we don’t have and forget what we are blessed with. I want to do it for everyone who was told they could never achieve anything,” said Luvunu.

In May, Luvunu completed a 42km Wally Hayward race with a prosthetic leg, two crutches and sheer determination. He finished the race even though he struggled with immense pain in his residual limb.

The Wally Hayward is a tribute to one of South Africa’s greatest athletes and has been a fixture on the road running calendar for the past 40 years.

“I don’t use my crutches anymore like when I started out. I now have a personal trainer who teaches me how to use my balance,” he said.

Luvunu, who now does motivational talks, is practising at a farm just outside Pretoria during the festive season for the Comrades. “I don’t want any distractions this December, so I’m training at a farm. No cellphone, no television no alcohol, no drugs and no women; just me and training,” he said.

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