Champion para-athlete, Maria Combrink, hopes to use her platform to help grow para-sport globally, with a keen focus on female athletes.
Combrink is a full-time employee and agrees that it gets difficult at times trying to balance sport and her working career, but has managed to keep her feet firmly on the ground with a great support system.
Earlier this year, Combrink set a World Record in the Women’s F64 Shot-put event at the Toyota Championships and went on to receive a nomination as Para-Powerlifting convenor for the Gauteng province.
Speaking with Nonto Nothana, Combrink shares views on the power recognition has on athlete’s careers.
Maria, thank you for taking time out to chat. As a World Record holder in the Women’s F64 Shot-Put, how has this achievement motivated you?
This has shown me that even if the sport you do is not a mainstream event or item, it is just as important to give it your all, every time you go and compete.
You have been recognised on the Momentum gsport Awards stage. What are your views on the power of recognition and how it impacts athletes?
I think that it shows the dedication and work that need to be consistently applied to achieve results on an international stage, especially if one still works full time as well.
What are your thoughts on the current state on women’s sports, specifically para-sport?
There is a lot more involvement needed at all levels. Women in sport are not taken seriously as men, which is a pity, as the amount of effort placed behind competing is sometimes more than men – women generally have to maintain additional roles, face ridicule and bullying to achieve in sport. Young girls can learn so much by taking part in sport at all levels in sport.
As a full time employee, how do you balance being an athlete and working?
I have an extra-long day (smiles). I start every day at 4am for work and also make sure that I manage to get a field session in after work. It gets difficult, but luckily I have a very understanding support system – work, sport, studies and then social.
What do you still hope to achieve in your sport career going forward?
I have recently been nominated as para powerlifting convenor for Gauteng. I hope to help grow the sport, especially with women athletes.
What advice do you have for the next generation?
Work hard. Don’t be afraid to fail to fail, failing helps you to grow and improve. Always celebrate the small victories as they build great victories.
Photo 1 Caption: Champion para-athlete, Maria Combrink, speaks on how the power of recognition impacts athletes. Photo: Supplied