Meet Zimbabwe’s first multi-talented blade runner

Mafira says he is inspired by South African Paralympic gold medallist Arnu Fourie and American long jump star Trenten Merrill.


HIS prosthetic right limb and his breakneck speed on the athletics track have earned him the nickname Zimbabwe’s first blade runner, but Pride Mafira’s talents go beyond the tartan track.

In addition to being a gifted para-athlete sprinter, the 16-year-old Prince Edward School prodigy has also excelled in other field events such as the long jump and shot-put while he competes with able-bodied athletes in other sports codes such as badminton and woodball.

His ultimate goal, however, is to represent Zimbabwe at the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games in the 100m and the long jump in the T44 and F64 categories respectively.

Mafira says he is inspired by South African Paralympic gold medallist Arnu Fourie and American long jump star Trenten Merrill.

The pair, who both lost their limbs in accidents, overcame numerous obstacles and challenges on their way to carve different careers as successful para-athletes who are revered globally.

“It would really mean a lot to me if I compete in Paris in 2024 Paralympics and I’m working on improving my times so that it can be better,” Mafira told The Sports Hub in an interview.

“My role models in sport are Arnu Fourie from South Africa and Trenten Merril from the USA; they have overcome so many obstacles to represent their countries at the Paralympics. They really inspire me because of the way they compete. They have so much experience in the sport, but they remain very humble.”

Mafira was born with fibular hemimelia, a rare birth defect affecting the fibular bone and had his right leg amputated when he was six-months-old.

The Victoria Falls-born young star got his first prosthetic at the age of three after his father’s chance meeting in Zimbabwe with Jim Cahill, the co-owner of Thompson Custom Orthotics and Prosthetics, who was on safari in the resort town.

Cahill, an amputee, then invited them to the US to fit him with his first prosthetic limb in 2011.

That was the beginning of young Mafira’s Paralympic dream. However, Mafira’s journey towards becoming a Paralympic athlete has not been without challenges.

Although Mafira has enjoyed success in high profile competitions in neighbouring South Africa, he has yet to compete in the country because local sports authorities cannot classify him as he is the only blade runner in the country.

Lack of recognition in his own country is one of the many obstacles he has faced in his budding career along with lack of proper training facilities, limited funding to compete in regional and international competitions.

“The biggest challenge that I’m facing is lack of training facilities, I train on grass most of the time and only see the tartan track on the day of the competition. We also face financial challenges, i.e. funds to register for participating in international and regional tournaments,” Mafira said.

He added: “We have challenges funding for airfares so we end up taking the bus and that affects my performance at the competitions because of fatigue.

“I also face a big problem when it comes to maintaining my prosthesis, we have to travel to South Africa to get it fixed and it’s expensive.”

Despite all the trials he has faced, early this year, Mafira made history after becoming the youngest athlete at the World Para Athletes Grand Prix held in Dubai.

Although he did not qualify for the 100m final after running the heat in 17.66 seconds, the Victoria Falls-based amputee set a personal best jump record of 3.01m in the long jump.

He was the youngest in the 100m dash, which had participants over 30 years old.

“It was a great experience for me and I was very happy to be part of the Zimbabwe Paralympics team, which participated in the Dubai Grand Prix earlier this year. It was really challenging because it was my first international competition and I was nervous because I was competing with older people. However, I’m happy that I gained a lot of exposure and I enjoyed the experience,” he said.

Mafira, who is currently preparing for his O-Level exams, is hoping to return to competitive action in South Africa on November 20 when he takes part in the qualifying trials for next year’s South African Championships for the physically disabled.

Funds permitting he is also hoping to participate FAZZA International Athletics Competition, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, the South Africa National Paralympics for the physically disabled and the International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports World Games.

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