After losing her leg in a trampoline accident, young para-gymnast, Kamogelo Mokeke, continues to beat the odds despite the challenges she faces.
The 15-year-old who is part of the Mmabana Arts and Culture tumbling team in Zeerust, says she draws inspiration from her teammates who she has witnessed triumph from their hard work and dedication to their craft.
Mokeke recently claimed silver in the over 15 tumbling category at the South Africa Gym Games as she represented her home province, North West, with an overall 53.20 points.
This victory has encouraged her to continue striving to be the best version she can be as she aims to compete at the Paralympics soon.
Speaking with Faheedah Crouch, Mokeke chats about her love for athletics and gymnastics and reveals her biggest support system.
Kamogelo, thank you so much for your time! Please can you tell us a bit about yourself.
Well, I’m Kamogelo Mokeke. I am 15 years old, and I am originally from Northam but moved to Zeerust, Lehurutshe in 2010. I am currently in grade 10 at Hoërskool Zeerust, studying commercial science.
You recently competed in the Gymnastics SA National Championships. What was the experience like?
My experience in the SA national gymnastics championships was amazingly scary. It was my first time representing North West along with a new routine against able-bodied gymnasts. That day I had experienced anxiety attacks because of the other talented gymnasts. I was a bit intimidated because of the differences between me and the other gymnasts but I had my father, coach, and my mother by my side.
Talk us through what a training session is like and what it entails.
My usual training sessions are actually like every gymnast’s training session. I enter the gymnasium; remove my prosthesis and I start stretching to avoid any injuries and to loosen up my muscles. I then start warming up (jumps) and then start slowly practicing my routine. Usually, my coach introduces my competition routines earlier so that it gives us time for me to perfect it as it takes time for me to find a balance between each routine. After practice, we do some strengthening and fitness routines then stretch. Then that’s the end of my sessions.
What would you like to achieve as a gymnast?
Honestly speaking I truly want to find myself at the highest level, competing all around the world.
You lost your leg in a trampoline accident, yet you continue to train and compete. What motivates you to continue, despite having your challenges?
Well, my mother, my coach, his wife, my teammates as well as my family. They are supportive. Even if you make mistakes, they will find a way to help you find your way, especially to do your best. You know, they have brought hope and faith that I’d one day become a national athlete or an athlete at all. Gymnastics was and is my first step into achieving my goal and even though I received a silver medal it encourages me and proves that I might be disabled but I am more than my disability and that is what my family has taught me.
Which athlete inspires you the most?
Since I have love for both athletics and gymnastics, the athlete that inspires me the most was Oscar Pistorius. He might have chosen a bad path, but he showed me even the disabled are able to accomplish and pursue their dreams.
For gymnastics, it would have to be one of my teammates Michael Jnr Masangana. He is 16 years old but has already gone overseas for national gymnastics competitions. This year he inspired another one of our teammates, Vuyisile George, who is 12 years old, to grow and level up and are both travelled to Azerbaijan on the 21st of November. That is an amazing result of hard work, dedication, and love for their sport.
How has your family supported you on your journey thus far?
My family has done more than enough to support me. I thought that after my injury everything would instantly change but it didn’t. My family just loved me more… they encourage me to do more, to try my best before giving up and they have made me who I am.
What are your thoughts around the gsport’s impact on women’s sport?
I feel as though gsport helps raise awareness of the capabilities of females all around the world and it helps build and inspire those who have fallen.
Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
In the next five years, I want to find myself in the Paralympic arena for sprinting. That’s the only goal that would truly show me that I haven’t lost the athletic part of me. I want to have completed my studies and be able to spread hope for the hopeless.
What would you say to someone who has a love for sports but thinks that their challenges hinder them?
I would say, what is sport without challenges. Sure, you will fall, get hurt and obviously, if you start a-new you won’t be perfect right away. You need to work on it regardless of the challenges. Challenges make us stronger.
Do you think that the face of sport is changing for young women and girls?
Yes. Women are repeatedly proving that it is possible for females to be national athletes and win as well. They inspire young athletes to pursue their talents and therefore creating an entire generation of powerful, strong, independent, and aspirational women and are celebrated at every loss and wins.
Photo 1 Caption: After losing her leg in a trampoline accident, young gymnast, Kamogelo Mokeke, continues to beat the odds despite the challenges she faces. Photo: Supplied