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SA student wheelchair basketballer off to Commonwealth Games

Student-athlete Michelle Moganedi is set to realise her dream of seeing the world while playing the sport she loves. An accident in 2018 left her wheelchair bound, but that did not deter this fanatical sports-lover, who was introduced to wheelchair basketball by a physiotherapist at a rehabilitation centre, from pursuing her passion. Less than four years later, Michelle will lead the South African women’s wheelchair basketball team, affectionately known as "Amawheelagirls", on the courts in Birmingham at the Commonwealth Games being held in the United Kingdom later this year.

The talented youngster took the time to speak with as she looks forward to this year’s global event:

Hi Michelle, thank you for taking the time to chat with us! Firstly, can you tell us a bit more about yourself?
I am a 20-year-old who grew up in Limpopo Province, South Africa. After my accident, my love for sport drew me to wheelchair basketball.

I understand you do javelin, discus and shot put at university level as well! What’s behind your choice to be involved in so many different sports?
When I got to my new school after my incident, I didn’t like the idea of sitting around and doing nothing. When I found out about all the the different sports the school offered, I couldn’t resist, because I am a big sports fanatic!

What university course are you enrolled in, and how do you balance your training with your studies?
I am currently in my second year studying Engineering Technology in Extraction Metallurgy at the University of Johannesburg. To balance sports and school isn’t easy, but it’s nothing a good schedule and focus can’t fix.

What in your opinion, is the level of para sport in South Africa?
The level of para sport in South Africa varies depending on the sporting code one is doing, but as a whole, I would say we are stable, but can improve with more para coaches, sponsorship and the right equipment.

Congratulations on being part of the South African team that qualified for the 2022 Commonwealth Games! How did it feel to win all the qualifiers and secure the country’s qualification for such a big tournament?
Firstly, I couldn’t have done it without my teammates, and I am grateful for the opportunity to represent South Africa. I had only been playing for the national women’s wheelchair basketball team for a few months, and securing qualification to the Commonwealth Games felt unreal, it still does.

What does it mean for you to represent your country?
Representing my country means a lot to me, it means that I am capable. Putting on the gold and green shirt has been one of my proudest moments.

What are you looking forward to most at the Commonwealth Games, and what do you hope to achieve?
I am really looking forward to the international experience, to playing against the best and learning from them while at it. I would love to help put my country on the map, to show the world that we have heart and we can play too.

What would you say has been your greatest or most memorable achievement so far?
My greatest and most memorable achievement so far would be making the national team and being the captain of the team that qualified for the Commonwealth Games.

What motivates you?
I am motivated by love, my family and the hunger to be one of the best.

What sporting goals have you set yourself for the future?
The goals I’ve set for myself would be to play wheelchair basketball abroad and, of course, going to the Paralympic Games to represent my country.

As a student, how important is it for you to have a degree behind you?
Having a degree is very important to me because education helps you grow as a person. In my opinion, it is the foundation for most things.

After you graduate, what are your hopes and dreams?
After I graduate I would actually like to continue as an athlete and pursue my career in engineering.

Thank you for talking to us Michelle, and all the best for Birmingham!

Posted by Fabio De Dominicis on 28 Apr, 2022.
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