When he was born with amniotic band syndrome, Mpumelelo "Mpumi" Mhlongo was never expected to be able to walk.
The condition left him with a shorter right leg, a club foot, and several affected fingers
Mhlongo defied doctors' predictions when he took his first steps at the age of six and "has never looked back". Today he's a T44- division world-record breaking athlete who's preparing for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games.
As you get the call you realise, now is the time to shine.— Mpumelelo "Mpumi" Mhlongo, Para-athlete and Paralympian
Most people only ever make something of themselves on their third attempt, so that's a 12-year journey you're looking at for an investment into ten seconds.— Mpumelelo "Mpumi" Mhlongo, Para-athlete and Paralympian
The chemcial engineering PhD student explains that he was classified as a para-athlete only at university, after participating in able-bodied sports as a primary school kid before an injury slowed him down.
His Mpumi2020 campaign is aimed not only at documenting his journey to the Tokyo Paralympics and Olympics, but at changing the narrative of the disabled in Africa.
Being disabled in Africa is still known as a curse.— Mpumelelo "Mpumi" Mhlongo, Para-athlete and Paralympian
We want to show the inspirational stories of the thought-to-be sub-class humans that live in Africa.— Mpumelelo "Mpumi" Mhlongo, Para-athlete and Paralympian
Mpumi invites South Africans to share their stories of living with disabilities.
We've got some exciting things coming up with 'One in 80-million' - there are about 80-million people living with disability in Africa. In about six weeks from now, we are going to start sharing those stories.— Mpumelelo "Mpumi" Mhlongo, Para-athlete and Paralympian
Find out more about the Mpumi2020 campaign on the website and follow #mpumi2020.
Listen to the inspirational conversation here:
This article first appeared on CapeTalk : Star para-athlete aiming to change narrative around the disabled in Africa