- Paralympic gold medalists Ntando Mahlangu and Anrune Weyers had different, but enriching reasons to celebrate their gold medal successes in Tokyo.
- Mahlangu won the T63 long jump with a world record jump of 7.17m while Weyers won the 400m T45 in a time of 56.05.
- The medals were South Africa's first at the 2020 Paralympic games.
Paralympic gold medalists Ntando Mahlangu and Anrune Weyers had different but equally enriching reasons to celebrate their successes in Tokyo on Saturday.
Weyers, who fought off Covid-19 before she could get ready for the games, steamed to a win in the 400m T45 in a time of 56.05 while Mahlangu saved his best for absolute last when his world record 7.17m was enough to get him the T63 long jump gold.
Mahlangu said the medal was a result of hard work and adapting to life without his coach, who was not in Tokyo.
"This is not just my medal. So much work has gone into getting it. It's such a great step that I took and I had to trust the process," the 19-year-old Mahlangu said.
"My coach has been coaching from home and I'm pretty sure he's super excited. He said I must give my last jump my everything because I have it in me.
"Jumping a 7.17 that took me from bronze to gold is such a big thing because this combined class is so difficult."
Mahlangu said the win was made all the more special by the fact he hasn't taken part in the long jump for a while.
"For me to come back and compete against the best, it makes it an honour for me to be here," Mahlangu said.
Weyers was spiritual in assessing her success.
"Just a few month ago, I had Covid-19 and it was difficult for me to think that I was going to be at the games," Weyers said.
"To be running and breathing is a big gift for me and I was quite overwhelmed by my emotions because I didn't do it alone. All glory to God.
"He was with me when I had Covid-19 when I thought my dream of going to the games was gone. He came and made it our dream."
With the medals being South Africa's first at the games, Weyers said she was proud of Mahlangu's efforts and how the games are about the uniting of the human spirit.
"I'm very proud of Ntando and I have followed his story. Seeing him mature and being so humble is very special," Weyers said.
"This could be a bit of hope for SA in that regardless of your colour or background, we are all human and we need to celebrate that in terms of equality.
"I hope this inspires SA to see that we are one and I celebrate Ntando like he's my brother and we celebrate each other, regardless of the outcome. We worked hard to be here."