Gqeberha-born Mbasa Qilingele has not let her disability stand in her way of reaching her Paralympic dream.
The former Cape Recife pupil was born with spina befida, which has resulted in her being wheelchair-bound.
Her love and passion for sport has taken the 20-year-old powerlifter to two international competition’s which saw her come back with not one, but two medals.
Before powerlifting though the ever smiling and bubbly Qilingele tried out other sports but none were satisfying for her.
She took some time to speak to gsport on her journey in sport and on her preparations for the Commonwealth Paraplegic Games, which takes place from 28 July to 8 August in Birmingham.
Hi Mbasa and thank you for taking time to speak to gsport, could you please give us a brief background of who you are?
Hi my name is Mbasa Qilingele, I’m a 20-year-old young lady who is born and raised in Gqebhera. I was born with spina befida (spina befida occurs when a developing baby’s spinal cord fails to develop properly, while in the womb.)
When did your journey in powerlifting start, and what sparked the interest?
My journey with powerlifting started in 2015, I was in grade 7. A teacher at my school, Cape Recife introduced me to powerlifting.
At first I had tried out wheelchair tennis, but I didn’t quite enjoy it. I then moved to archery, with archery I still didn’t feel confident and comfortable in the sport, so then I finally moved to powerlifting, and I’m enjoying the sport so much.!
Powerlifting is one of those sport’s that helps me with strengthening my upper body muscles, since I cannot move or feel my legs.
What are you biggest highlights and achievements in the sport so far?
I participated in two world international competitions. In 2018 I went to Finland- Vanta to compete in International Powerlifting World Classic Bench Press Championship. I competed under the 70kg division and I came 4th I had lifted 72.5kg. I received a bronze medal.
In 2019 represent South Africa at the World Open, Sub Junior, Junior- and Master Classic and Equipped Bench Press Championships in Tokyo, Japan. I competed under the 75kg division and I came second, I had lifted 80kg, and I received a silver medal.
In the 2018 Eastern Cape Sport and Recreation Achievers Awards I was the winner in the category Sportswoman of the Year for a Person with a Disability. I also made the finalist for the sport star of the year.
I was also awarded the Classic Bench press best overall disable lifter.
I also understand that you’ve qualified for Commonwealth Paraplegic Games, you must be very happy to have achieved. Please tell us how did that come about?
Yes, I am very excited to be traveling to England. The games will take place in Birmingham, in August.
In February I competed at the Eastern Cape Powerlifting Championships in the benched 80kg and came fifth, but took first position under the 85kg division.
My name was submitted by the International Powerlifting Federation, and that is how I was nominated to go to the Commonwealth Games.
What are you future plans?
To one day participate in the Paralympic Games and to also have a foundation under my name showing and educating people about the daily challenges disabled people must deal with.
Lastly, what would be your advice to young girls who would like to get into powerlifting?
Powerlifting is a very difficult sports, because most of the time you are working with weights, building your body fitness: Never give up!
Photo 1 Caption: Gqeberha born Mbasa Qilingele prepares for Commonwealth Paraplegic Games.Photo: Supplied