Athlete aims high

2018-04-24 06:00
Joshua van Staden

Joshua van Staden

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Joshua van Staden from Vista Nova High School in Pinelands has higher aspirations after winning three gold medals at the SASAPD National Championship for the Physically Disabled in Bloemfontein over the Easter holidays­.

He won the u.17 category in javelin, discus and shot-put.

Van Staden says he surprised himself when he scooped three gold medals all at once. He says the achievement has changed his attitude towards athletics. He now sees himself participating in the Paralympics in the near future.

“I did not like athletics at the beginning. I was randomly chosen to participate at provincial qualifications. I had no idea how to throw the javelin, I failed seven times and I was left with one chance. I kept my head up, motivated myself and took on the last throw and I made it. I started practising and preparing for the nationals from that day,” says van Staden.

He says he was discouraged from athletics because he thought no-one would take him seriously as he is referred to as a “dwarf”.

Van Staden was born with achondroplasia, a genetic disorder that results in dwarfism. He says he never lets his circumstances limit him.

“There will be times when you are going to fail, but you should not stop. What makes you succeed is perseverance.”

Quintin Langevelt, Joshua’s coach, says: “Joshua is a very small person but he has a big dream. He is one of the seven disabled athletes I was assigned to by Play Sport 4 Life to coach. Because of their disabilities we had to use a completely different approach. We put in a lot of time encouraging them to look at their abilities and not disability. Joshua adopted a new technique with the javelin, which immediately improved his distance.”

He says Vista Nova is a school with many talented learners and dedicated­ educators­.

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