Tennis star’s tale of triumph

2013-10-28 00:00

WHEN Lucas Sithole survived after losing both his legs and most of his right arm in a train accident in 1998, he thought his sporting life had come to an end.

But instead of turning into a pessimist, he decided to take up wheelchair tennis.

In September, Sithole became the first African man to win a U.S. Open singles event of any kind when he beat American player David Wagner 3-6, 6-4, 6-4.

In a few months’ time he will face off against some of the country’s most celebrated stars in the SA Sports Star of the year awards.

Bafana Bafana captain and Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune, Olympic gold medallist Chad le Clos, Proteas batsman Hashim Amla and road runner Mapaseka Makhanya are the other nominees.

Sithole has also been nominated in the Sportsman of the year with disability category alongside wheelchair marathoner Ernst van Dyk and track and field athlete Hilton Langenhoven.

Sithole remains philosophical about the accident that changed his life.

“The accident was a blessing, I wouldn’t have been the person I am today if it did not happen and I won’t change a thing about life,” he said.

Speaking at his home in Osizweni, Newcastle, during a visit by KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo on Saturday, he said he is happy with his life achievements.

Sithole was born in Pomeroy in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands before the family moved to Dann­hauser.

The freak accident that changed his life happened in a train yard.

“I was 12 years old. But with quiet courage and the loving support of my mother I managed to transform tragedy into triumph,” he said.

“I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me. I’m living my life to the fullest. As you can see I drive myself around and I’m happy with my family,” said Sithole.

He is ranked number one in South Africa and number two in the world quads. He is aiming to win a medal at the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games.

Sithole also writes music and sings Maskandi and is preparing to release an album soon.

He was a basketball player before he started playing tennis. “Tennis gives me independence … I don’t have to blame the other person for mistakes made during the game. So that is why I changed from basketball to tennis and I love it,” he said. He is coached by Holger Losch.

His grandmother Momzeba Langa said after the accident they were not sure about his life but that one day he was going to be a sportsman. “It was difficult for the family and today we are proud of him,” said Langa.

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