Champion para-athlete, Maria Combrink, set a new World Record in the Women’s F64 Shot-Put event at the recently concluded Toyota SASAPD Championships and is looking forward to building on her success.
Combrink reveals her latest victory is a culmination of hard work and dedication to her craft, which has also encouraged her to progress into weight and powerlifting.
As a full-time employee, she admits it has not been a smooth ride balancing her schedule, however having a stable job allows her to fund her passion on the field.
Combrink is hoping in future leading corporate companies will see the feasibility of investing in para-athletes and help grow the sport.
Speaking with Celine Abrahams, Combrink chats about her sports journey and shares advice to young girls looking to pursue a career in the sport industry.
Maria, thank you for taking time out to chat to gsport. Firstly, congratulations on setting a new World Record in the Women’s F64 Shot-Put event at the recently concluded Toyota SASAPD Championships. What does this victory mean to you?
This victory is the embodiment of the work that I have put in, the 4am starts in the morning and the lunchtime stretch and strength sessions coming together.
What did you think of the overall tournament and the performances of every athlete?
“It was also so incredible to witness all of the other records being bettered and broken.” – New World Record in the Women’s F64 Shot-Put, Maria Combrink
I love competing at the Toyota SASAPD National Championships, it was well organised and it is always wonderful see the other athletes – especially now during Covid when events were scarce.
It was also so incredible to witness all of the other records being bettered and broken.
Please tell us more about you and your sports journey.
I have always loved sport, I competed in underwater hockey, action netball and athletics before my accident. It was a natural progression to continue with sports.
I love shot-put, so it really was an easy choice. For the past number of Paralympics there is only discus in my class (F64), so I had to try my hand at discus as well.
Also, I recently started CrossFit and that naturally progressed to weight and powerlifting.
What are the challenges that you face being a para-athlete in South Africa?
For me the challenges are mostly related to two main points – time and funding.
I work full-time so my training schedule is built around my work. When it comes to competing internationally a lot of the times the cost for travel and competition is for my account. I have to be very selective with the competitions I enter to ensure that I get the value out of the event.
How can this situation be changed for future para-athletes?
“Large corporations should also step up and invest in para-athletes at all levels.” – Combrink shares her thoughts on how to positively impact para-sport.
I think there should be a more focused approach to athlete development from the relevant sporting bodies, and this will not be sports oriented only, but should include career and mental development as well.
Large corporations should also step up and invest in para-athletes at all levels.
Who inspires you and why?
I get inspired by all of the people that I meet on my journey, that show up every day and put in the work – regardless of the challenges they face. They show up for themselves!
What are some of your career highlights to date?
I would have to say for my para-sports career:
- Competing at World Championships in London 2017 and setting the African Record
- Winning Gauteng Sportswoman with a Disability 2017
- Getting to row with the SA Paralympic rowing team in 2016
- And obviously this past weekend, setting the new world record for Shot-Put Women F64
What is your advice to young girls who are aiming to pursue their sports career?
Make sure that you start from a strong foundation, keep in mind that it is not something that happens overnight or sustains itself – it takes a lot of hard work, time, dedication and money.
Be sure to have something else to do once you retire or step away from sports.
Most importantly – be sure to enjoy what you do and always celebrate the small victories on your way to the larger goals.
Don’t be afraid of failure – failure is the first step to greatness.
What are your plans for the rest of the year in terms of competitions lined up?
Currently I have no set plans in terms of competing at selected events.
Photo 1 Caption: Champion para-athlete, Maria Combrink, set a new World Record in the Women’s F64 Shot-Put event at the recently concluded Toyota SASAPD Championships and is looking forward to building on her success. Photo: Martin Potgieter Photography