Tebogo Mokgalagadi (1983 - )
The Order of Ikhamanga in
Profile of Tebogo Mokgalagadi
George Tebogo Mokgalagadi was born in Germiston on 29 November 1983. The first four years of his life passed uneventfully; before a car accident orphaned the little boy and left him permanently disabled with cerebral palsy.
Raised by his grandmother at her home in Jagersfontein, he attended school in Bloemfontein in spite of his severely limiting disability, and from an early age showed remarkable determination in not only dealing with his disability but overcoming it to become a notable sports star.
Since 1998 he has represented Free State at the Nedbank South African Championships for the Physically Disabled in not one but several sporting codes, including table tennis, hockey, athletics and cerebral palsied soccer.
In 2002 Mokgalagadi discovered his talent for track events and went into serious training in this code. He reaped the benefit at the 2003 South African Championships, where he won a gold medal and broke the world record in the 100-metre event for T35-category athletes, won another gold medal and set a new South African record in the 200-metre event, took yet another gold in the shot-put and a silver medal in the javelin. He also played in the Free State cerebral palsied soccer team, which won the bronze medal. At the end of the competition he was named the most promising junior athlete at the event and short-listed for the South African Paralympic team.
At the 2004 South African Championships Mokgalagadi won gold medals in the 100-metre, 200-metre, 400-metre, javelin and long-jump events. These astonishing achievements resulted in his achieving his greatest dream, inclusion in the South African Paralympic team for the games in Athens.
There he broke the world record in the 100-metre event by an unprecedented margin of 13,5 seconds, then went on to break the Paralympic record in the 200-metre event and was also part of the South African 100-metre relay team, which came fourth in the finals.
At the 2005 South African Championships he attained more laurels by taking gold in the 100-metre, 200-metre, 400-metre, 100-metre relay (where a new world record was set), long-jump and javelin events, and gained silver in soccer.
Mokgalagadi's triumphs over his circumstances extend beyond sport. “Tebogo’ to all who know him, is a devout Christian who speaks Tswana, English, Afrikaans and Xhosa, and supports himself by working part-time while studying at the Motheo FET College in Bloemfontein. His efforts on and off the field have been recognised with honours such as the 2004 Motheo FET College Principal's Award, and his selection as both the 2004 Bloemfonteiner of the Year and Free State Sports Star of the Year.
George Tebogo Mokgalagadi's sustained resolve and unshakeable determination in the face of crushing physical challenge make him a true example of the human spirit's ability to triumph over adversity, and a role-model for all young people in South Africa, both able-bodied and disabled.