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Profile of Ilse Hayes
Ilse Hayes is an inspirational young woman who refuses to be limited by her visual impairment. Born in the Western Cape on 30 August 1985, Hayes has made South Africa proud by consistently going for gold in the Paralympics track and field competitions.
Hayes started her athletic career at the tender age of six, participating in tennis, netball and gymnastics.
However the obstacles posed by her visual impairment led her to discontinue tennis and gymnastics and shifting her focus to track and field events. In the process of honing her skills, she studied and qualified in Paediatrics and Sports Science at the University of Stellenbosch.
Hayes believes that the obstacles of your past can become the gateway that leads to new beginnings. In her own words: “…just imagine you are a drop of water in the ocean and then ask yourself: Where are my boundaries?”
It turns out that her boundaries are limitless as her achievements attest.
In the 2004, Hayes competed in the Athens Summer Paralympics in Greece, where she won bronze in the women’s 400-metres T13 event and finished fifth in the women’s 100-metres T13 event.
In the 2008 Beijing Summer Paralympics in China, Hayes won gold in the women’s Long jump F13 event and silver in the women’s 10-metres T13 event. She finished fifth in the women’s 200-meter T13 event.
In April 2010, Hayes achieved another milestone when she married Cassie Carstens. But instead of putting her career on hold, she went on to compete at the 2012 London Summer Paralympics where she won a gold medal in the women’s long jump F13 event and silver in the women’s 100-metre track event.
Talking to the media on her return from the Paralympics, Hayes noted that it was only when the nation welcomed them back that she realised the positive impact their victory had had on the country.