- A 16-year-old learner shined at a athletics event, despite her disability
- When Joelene was 11, a tragic accident ended up injuring the nerves in her right leg
- But, she would not let it get her down, so she started to compete in sports again and now she’s heading to Italy
Joelene Haasbroek, a physically disabled grade 10-learner from Eldoraigne High School in Centurion made her school proud wit her excellent performance at the Standard Bank National athletics championship, held by the South African Sport Association for the Physically Disabled (SASAPD).
Haasbroek competed in four different athletic categories, where she won the gold medal n each one of them.
The 16-year-old competed in the 100m, long jump, weight-throwing and javelin throw. Her outstanding performance led to Haasbroek being chosen by the Gauteng Sport, Culture and Recreation Department to attend the Tricolor-games in Italy during the July school vacation.
When Haasbroek was 11-years-old, she went on holiday with friend’s family. However, they were in a serious accident between Pretoria and Sun City. The accident claimed one person’s life and left Haasbroek with a serious injury- the nerves in her right leg was severely damaged.
Doctors attempted to reattach the nerves through surgery, but they made it clear to her it could be unsuccessful, since the nerves can grow crooked or not grow back at all.
And, sadly that was the case. The nerves never grew back, which impacted the feeling Haasbroek has in her right leg.
According to the young star athlete, she can feel her leg but her right foot is completely numb. She continued to explain toe Maroela Media that her foot is hypersensitive and can not move at all.
Briefly.co.za learned Haasbroek has been quite the athlete since a young age. However, she decided to concentrate on drama following the accident because she thought she’d never be able to run again.
“I thought I would never be able to run again and that my athletics career had come to an end. However, I saw people with worse injuries than mine competing in athletics”, she said, adding those athletes still did great and she could too, “I realised although I had an injury, I still had my speed”.
This motivated Haasbroek to make a decision to comptete in athletics again. She and her mother, Magda, started doing research on how she could live out her dream despite her disability. They met a man who helped them do a disability classification.
Haasbroek was classified as a T44-catergorie athlete, which meant she fell in the group of athlete who had injuries to their lower body.
Despite wanting to compete, Haasbroek recalled being nervous about returning to sport.
“I did not exercise for four years, so I thought I would have to get fit really fast. I competed in three elimination rounds and qualified for SA’s.”, she said.
Haasbroek added she won at the SA’s, despite competing in the under 20 age-group.
The inspirational athlete said she’s looking forward to competing in Italy, adding the last time she travelled abroad was with her parents while she was still a toddler.
Haasbroek added winning at the SA championship was her greatest athletic achievement in her life, and she never would have thought it was possible to do it with a serious injury.
“If something like this happens to you, it is easy to feel sorry for yourself, but you should not.” She said, adding what happened to her could have been a lot worse.
“Now I have to make something of my life. I only have one chance and I need to use it”.
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