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Rhodes student competes at World Transplant Games

Date Released: Wed, 31 July 2013 11:59 +0200

“I’m honoured and humbled to wear the South African colours and represent my country,” says Mthunzi Fatyi. “I’m looking forward to bringing back gold and making my country proud. It’s not just an achievement for me, but for all the people who love and support me.”

Battling against the odds of kidney failure at a young age, Fatyi, a Rhodes University post graduate student, will be taking part in the 19th World Transplant Games in Durban this week, competing in the 100m sprint and 500m power walk events.

As a promising and passionate rugby player, he was shattered to discover at the tender age of 16, that he could not fulfil his dream of becoming a professional rugby player, due to unexpected kidney failure.

However in 2002, he was fortunate to undergo a successful kidney transplant, thereby systematically slowly building up his strength and re-kindling his love of sport. After almost 18 years of dedicated training, he achieved his dream of becoming a professional athlete.

Born and bred in Grahamstown, Fatyi completed his schooling at Samuel Ntsika Secondary School and later graduated at Rhodes University in 2012.  This year, he enrolled for a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) at the Faculty of Education, Rhodes University.

He will be completing his studies at the end of the year and he plans to go back to Samuel Ntsika Secondary School to teach and dedicate himself to building learners lives through sport.

“I’m looking forward to making a contribution by coaching and encouraging young people growing up in difficult circumstances, just like I did. I am grateful for the small changes that happened in my life that brought me to where I am now.”

He strongly feels the need to share the life lessons he has learned. “To reflect on life, don’t hold onto the past and never give up,” he says. He believes that playing sport teaches you about life as you learn how to work in a team as well as excel as an individual.

Fatyi tries to train for a few hours every day, getting up early in the morning for a run before focussing on his studies and part time job at the Rhodes University Library. “Sometime I wake up not feeling 100% but I have to keep going,” he says.

The 2013 World Transplant Games are being hosted in Durban, South Africa . Recipients who have received life saving organ transplants from more than 55 countries worldwide will compete in various sports in the hopes of winning gold, silver and bronze medals for their country. The games celebrate the triumph of the human spirit and the hope that is behind every transplant.

The games will host 13 different sports codes at various venues around Durban.

Photo and story by Anna-Karien Otto