Kerwin looks ahead to the World Para Athletics Championships

Kerwin Noemdo competes at the 2017 Nedbank National Championships for the Physically Disabled. PICTURE: MARTIN POTGIETER

Wearing the green and gold for the first time at the IWAS (International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports) World Games in 2011; being selected for the SA World Champs team in 2013; and kicking the conversion as fullback of Paul Roos Gymnasium’s second team to draw the match against Grey College in matric.

These are just a few of Kerwin Noemdo’s sporting highlights, and this fourth-year BSc Conservation Ecology student at Stellenbosch University (SU) will no doubt add to them, when he competes at the 2017 World Para Athletics Championships in London, from Friday July 14 to Sunday July 23.

Kerwin, along with fellow Maties Parasport athletes Charl du Toit, Anruné Liebenberg, Dyan Buis, Arnu Fourie, Ilse Hayes, Zanele Situ, Reinhardt Hamman and debutant Ruhan van Rooyen, have all been included in the team to represent South Africa at this elite event.

“It’s a huge honour to represent my country again and I’m extremely happy, but also relieved. I made many sacrifices since 2013 and it was a huge disappointment not to make the World Champs team in 2015. It was a tough journey, but I’m glad I pushed through,” he said.

As a below-elbow arm amputee, Kerwin will compete in the shot put and discus events in the F47 category, and he hopes to achieve personal best results in both events.

Ultimately this athlete, who was only 13 when he took part in his first national championships, hopes to represent his country at the Paralympic Games.

As an unborn baby, the umbilical cord wrapped around his wrist and he was born with a small, deformed right hand. A few months after his birth, doctors decided to amputate.

This hasn’t stopped him from participating in sport.

“I obviously did not know what it was like to have two hands, so I learnt to play with one hand and adapted accordingly. I played soccer and cricket in primary school and rugby all the way up until matric (2012). I enjoy all sports, but if I had to choose a favourite it will no doubt be rugby. I am a real fanatic.”

Apart from being a final-year student hoping to graduate at the end of this year, he also trains approximately 12 to 14 hours a week, under the guidance of coach Karin le Roux.

“It was a struggle at the beginning (to balance sport and studies), but you get used to it quite quickly. You need to work out a system that is best for you. Once you have a fixed routine, it becomes easier to stay focused,” he said.

Kerwin also counts on his family for support. “They had and always will have the biggest influence on my life. They all play a key role in everything I do and why I do it.”

Coaches Suzanne Ferreira, Karin le Roux and Daniel Damon will accompany the athletes to London. It will be the final competition for legendary Maties Parasport athletes and Stellenbosch University alumni Ilse Hayes and Arnu Fourie.

Pia Nänny is the Maties Sport/ Faculty of Education media coordinator