A Vista Nova High school learner jetted off to Nottwil in Switzerland for the World Para Athletics Junior Championships taking place from Thursday 1 to Sunday 4 August.Joshua van Staden (19) from Vanguard Estate, who will be taking part in athletics, shotput and discus, left the country on Friday 26 July.The championships will take place in the Sport Arena of the Swiss Paraplegic Centre following a successful debut at the same venue two years ago.Van Staden was diagnosed with dwarfism and born with achondroplasia, which means he has bowed legs, shorts arms, curved back and a prominent forehead but this doesn’t even begin to bother him. “Because of my condition, people looked down on me. I had eyes on me most of the time because I was different. When I realised I was different I didn’t ask why but I asked myself what I will do different. I set goals and I had dreams to pursue and I wasn’t going to let my condition hold me back,” he says.Speaking to People’s Post, last week before his departure, Van Staden says this has been his dream for a long time and him going to represent the country, is a result of sacrifice, determination and discipline. “I’m supposed to be training right now but I couldn’t because of the bad weather, but it is fine. This is life, there are disappointments in life but I’m prepared,” he says, hinting that he will be joined by other 26 people on this trip.He says he is grateful to God that he managed to raise the money. “I had to raise R45 000 for this trip. I put God to the test and I kept my faith that someone will help me raise this money. I’m really happy that God came through for me and made this possible,” he says, adding that with a single parent, they wouldn’t have managed to put this money together.Van Staden says he is thrilled to be going on this trip. “Sport has been a saving grace for me. I must say I was in a wrong crowd and I was headed on the wrong path. My mother helped me and put me into sport and things have only looked up for me.“When I told my friends and school mates about the benefits of sport they said ‘jy is dom’ and they laughed at me. I didn’t let that bother me, look at me now, I’m going to Nottwil. I only have God to thank,” he says.The Grade 12 learner adds that discipline also plays a key role in what he does as he has to balance his school work and training. His day starts at 04:00. “I go for a jog and then prepare for school. I get to school very early because I have to catch up on what others did while I was gone for training before starting my day,” he adds.“Above all, it is the faith that I have in God. I knew that one day, I will represent my country. I had to take one step at a time. As you need to plan everything. Take small steps towards our goals and one day we will get there,’’ he says.