Samkelo Radebe

“If only I could make you experience the feeling,” says Samkelo Radebe. He’s talking about the world-record 41.78s it took him and his teammates to go round the track in the 4x100m relay at the London Paralympics last year. “I did more living during that race than some people do in a lifetime.” Radebe has experienced equally low moments. When he was nine he had both his forearms amputated after the kite he was flying hit an electricity pylon. The injuries were so severe that he recalls a time during treatment when he couldn’t tell skin from bone. But he’s philosophical to the point of being chipper. “I still have no reason to be angry,” he says. “I have a great life, filled with loving friends and family. I just happened to lose my hands when I got naughty with electricity.” More relevant to the 24-yearold is that he’s fast. “I have a lot of explosive power, which means a great start,” he explains. He proved this with his opening leg for the relay team in London, as well as for their gold win at the IPC World Championships in 2011. His personal bests of 11.10s for the 100m and 23.12s for the 200m are both national records for the T45 class. Running solo, he also took silver in 2011 at the Commonwealth Games in India. “I really love what I do with a passion,” he says. “Hard work is my daily life.” Another part of his routine is studying Law at the University of Johannesburg. “My big, big goal is to finish my degree this year,” says Radebe. “I enjoy talking and listening, so my personality fits Law quite well. Apparently I like arguing too. Next year I’ll do articles,” he says. “But working while training and competing is going to be a different ball game.” — Ian Macleod