Cape Town - South Africa’s fastest-ever para-athlete, Ndodomzi Ntutu, has done his name proud by becoming a household name given his stand-out performances on the world stage in the past.
The name Ndodomzi translates to “man of the house” in isixhosa. He won Paralympic bronze at the 2012 Games in London and silver in Rio 2016.
At the 2018 Commonwealth Games, the Gugulethu-born Ntutu became Mzansi’s fastest-ever para-athlete by clocking 10.80 seconds in the men’s 100m T12 heats.
A few weeks ago, the 37-year-old Ntutu was crowned SA’S Sportsman of the Year with a Disability.
Now the age-defying Ntutu plans to beat “Father Time” by going for gold at the 2024 Paralympics in Paris. He’ll have a dress rehearsal when he competes there in July at the 2023 World Para Athletics championships.
“I need that gold because it is that one medal that’s missing from my collection,” said Ntutu.
“Currently I invest all of my time in my training in preparation for the 2023 World (Championships) and then onwards to Paris 2024.
“I spend six days of the week training to make sure I am fully prepared. The daily routine includes five track and four gym sessions per week. I am healthy and have been training well.
“Coach Raymond Julius has tweaked my start slightly. We are working hard to get used to it, to make it second nature and hoping that it will be the game-changer by the time the World Championships comes around.”
Ntutu’s visual impairment presents challenges, but he has taken the bit between his teeth and there’s no stopping him as he pursues his dream of Paris gold.
“As a visually impaired athlete, I find it very challenging to travel,” said Ntutu.
“I cannot drive at all. I must ask people for lifts or make my way around via public transport.
“At home, I tend to watch television a lot as I am a sports lover. However, I cannot see the television all that well and need to sit close. Many people find this funny and do not understand why I need to sit that close.”
Despite the daunting challenges, Ntutu’s love for sprinting gives him a fulfilling life.
“Running brings me a sense of calm. I run because I feel free and my mind feels clear,” said Ntutu.
“I sprint because I love the adrenalin. I feel that running as fast as I can fulfils me.”
In these times of spiralling inflation, cash-strapped athletes like Ntutu are battling to remain fully professional. He joined forces with Matchkit, a platform that allows athletes to professionally profile themselves, and increase their commercial potential.
Matchkit is the brainchild of co-founder Mike Sharman and the platform offers athletes a ground-breaking solution towards monetising their careers simply and cost-effectively.
“When I joined the Matchkit group, I was thrilled because I realised I have an opportunity to make my wildest dreams come true,” said Ntutu. “Matchkit is a platform that multiple athletes have been looking for and need to gain financial fitness and well-being.
“I believe in the platform and am grateful for it. We have seen, and continue to see, athletes growing their brands off the field of play. It helps you plan on growing your brand so that you not only gain more fans, but also hopefully secure the backing of big brands or corporations who can help you financially.
“Growing my brand is something I find a challenge. I realise that gaining exposure is the best way in ensuring that corporates gain a glimpse of you. In time you will see who you are as a person and athlete.”
As a seasoned athlete, Ntutu is very set in his ways and would like to have a healthier diet.
“I find it harder than others to eat healthy foods,” said Ntutu. “A lot of time I cannot eat as well as I should as I find food very expensive. Sometimes I need to make do with just bread and peanut butter.
“When it comes to sleeping, I do not miss a beat. I am in bed strictly at 10pm as nine hours of sleep gives me the best chance to recover. I am always up at 7am to prepare for the day ahead of hard work.”