Ilse Hayes

Ilse Hayes has her eye on the long jump world record. And that doesn’t seem far off — considering that she won gold at last year’s Paralympics in spite of a torn quad muscle. She also came second in the 100m sprint. Hayes has 15% vision in both eyes, owing to a condition that caused her eyesight to start deteriorating when she was 11. At her first international competition, the Junior Wheelchair Games in Australia in 2001, she won the long jump, as well as the 100m, 200m and 400m events. In time, though, she found her niche in the long jump and 100m disciplines, in which she took gold and silver respectively at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics. “It feels good to be at the top of your game,” she says. “But it takes hard work to stay there. Success is dependent on self-discipline, sacrifice and support. I am already preparing for Rio!” — Fatima Asmal