Para-Athlete Refiloe Sishange Aims to Represent South Africa on the World Stage 

After going to hospital due to shortness of breath shortly after birth, the Sishange family never imagined that baby Refiloe would lose her ability to walk in the process. Fast forward to 2023, this brave young woman is a para-athlete representing the Ekurhuleni Region. All Photos: Supplied

Langavillle is a location near Tsakane in Brakpan, Ekurhuleni, and there resides 15 year-old Refiloe Sishange: A ambitious and very determined young girl who has the potential to become one of South Africa’s representatives at the Paralympic Games. 

Soon after she was born, Sishange had to be taken to Pholosong Hospital for shortness of breath and no-one could’ve imagined that what seemed like a simple illness would result in her losing her ability to walk. 

But that misfortune has not deterred Sishange from chasing her dreams, and this young lady is well on her way to donning the green and gold if she continues to put in the hard yards on the field.

From a young age, Refiloe has been on the field of play, this in three disciplines namely: Shortput, Javelin and Wheelchair Tennis. She is part of the Kwa-Thema Disability Club coached by Aubrey Mothibela. 

Most recently at the OR Tambo Soncini Social Games hosted at the UJ Soweto Campus in October 2023, she participated, representing Ekurhuleni, in the U17 category, in shot-put and Javelin.

Refiloe finished fourth in Javelin, in Shot-put she managed a 5th place finish. An accumulation of these finishes within the top 5 and top 10, sees the East Rand native qualify to represent Gauteng at the 2024 ToyotaSA SASAPD National Championships in Bloemfontein early next year. 

Sport has no guarantees and a lot of the time results will not go the athletes way and when that happens to Refiloe, she’s hardly fazed: “I tell myself that I’m not going to give up on that, I’ll keep working on it.” 

The loss of Ntombizanele Situ, the first black Para-athlete, to win gold for South Africa at the Paralympics, is still a pain felt and affecting South Africa’s sporting fraternity. Her legacy though and huge piece of history she’s created for South Africa will live on in the likes of Refiloe Sishange. 

In Situ, they saw someone that looks like them in all aspects and she has made them believe that nothing under the sun is impossible. Situ paved the way for young black girls from Mzani’s townships to chase dreams that go well beyond our borders.

“I saw the people who are in same situation as me participating in sport so I get a lot of inspiration from that,” she says the grade 9 pupil from Langaville Primary School.

Refiloe’s one wish: “I wish we could have more sponsors and more people supporting and encouraging us. 

Her biggest goal is to qualify and compete for a tournament outside of South Africa. 


Photo Caption: After going to hospital due to shortness of breath shortly after birth, the Sishange family never imagined that baby Refiloe would lose her ability to walk in the process. Fast forward to 2023, this brave young woman is a para-athlete representing the Ekurhuleni Region. All Photos: Supplied

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