Stephanus Johannes Lombaard (1969 - )
The Order of Ikhamanga in
Profile of Stephanus Johannes Lombaard
Stephanus Johannes “Fanie’ Lombaard was born in Pretoria on 29 May 1969. Tall and strong, his favourite game was rugby, which he played so well that he became a Blue Bulls star with an excellent chance of achieving Springbok colours.
Then a playing injury drastically altered his sporting future when it resulted in the amputation of his left leg at the knee.
Lombaard did not brood on the loss of his leg. Instead he turned his attention to disabled athletics, where he would still be able to use the physical conditioning, balance and lightning reflexes he had developed during his years of playing rugby.
Lombaard chose the discus, shot-put, javelin and pentathlon categories as his new fields of sporting endeavour, and concentrated on mastering each with the same passion and energy that had made him a star on the rugby field.
His total dedication to sustained excellence bore fruit at the 1996, 2000 and 2004 Paralympic Games, where he won a total of seven gold, two silver and one bronze medal. Lombaard's largest haul was at the Sydney games in 2000, where he won gold medals for the shot-put, discus and pentathlon, and a silver medal in the javelin category.
At the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens, Lombaard came close to repeating his winning performance in Sydney four years earlier. He won two gold medals, one for the shot-put – setting a new world record of 13.52 metres in the process – and the other for the discus, with a throw of 45.56 metres, as well as a silver medal for the javelin, with a throw of 47.02 metres. It was a significant contribution to the team's combined haul of 15 gold medals, 13 silver and seven bronze. By the time the team had returned home, its contingent of first-timers were already primed for the coming games in Beijing in 2008.
Lombaard has been deservedly honoured for his efforts by various organizations, including the International Paralympics Committee. He was named the Supersport Disabled Athlete of the Decade in 2004.
At 36, Stephanus Johannes Lombaard knows that he is nearing the end of his Paralympics participation, although he will still be involved in athletics for many years to come. But the records he set and the medals he won will remain in the record-books as a shining example to all South Africans of how one man, through his spiritual strength and iron resolve, turned a personal disaster into a triumph, not only for himself but for his country.