Simon Makgobela, a professional para-cyclist is inspiring an entire community with his strength and resilience. The talented cyclist was seen waiting at a stop street asking for donations to help get him to his next race.
Jodie Allan, a local Fourways resident was driving in the Cradle of Humankind when she noticed a differently-abled man in a wheelchair, wearing a South African cycling outfit, sitting on the side of the road, holding up a board.
Something inside of her told her to stop to ask him what his story was and why he was wearing a professional cycling outfit.
Makgobela explained who he was, how he had lost his legs and how deep his passion for cycling goes.
Makgobela’s life changed in 2002. As an aspiring street dancer, he was on the brink of joining the competitive side of dancing when he had a terrible accident, which resulted in him losing both his legs.
The young man from Munsieville in Krugersdorp is lucky to be alive.
While trying to disembark a train to Krugersdorp, which was about to set off, his jacket got caught in the closing doors of the train as it started moving and while he tried to free himself, he eventually lost his balance and footing and fell out of the moving train and was drawn underneath it.
“At that moment, I lost everything and had to start my life again from scratch,” he says.
“I would use a normal wheelchair to get around and started racing myself on it.”
The 29-year-old has been riding a hand cycle since 2012 when esteemed cyclist Hilary Lewis introduced him to the sport. Lewis, who has represented South Africa on many occasions, explained how the hand cycle worked and Makgobela’s interest grew even more when Andries Scheepers lent him a bike.
“I competed in a TT event in Joburg and I really liked it,” said Makgobela.
“Instead of doing three laps, I just kept on going because I was having so much fun. I was trying very hard to follow Andries, and I have been training hard to ride faster.”
Earlier this year, Makgobela was entered into rounds one and two of the UCI Para-cycling Road World Cup in Italy and Switzerland, and he was generously supported by grant funding received from the Department of Sport and Recreation. This process of developing Makgobela is being facilitated by Cycling South Africa.
“I’m ready for the World Cup in Pietermaritzburg but I’m not as strong as the others. It will take me time to get there and I’m doing very well – I’m trying my best.”
“The investment in Simon by Sport and Recreation South Africa has paid huge dividends in terms of fast-tracking the development and competitive ability of this talented rider,” said Cycling SA Para-cycling Commission Director, Dr Mike Burns.
“It was rewarding to note the respect that was afforded him by the international community of riders with whom he recently engaged in Italy and Switzerland. Simon will be returning to the Stellenbosch Academy of Sport to complete the high performance programme that has been developed for him.”
Makgobela’s message to those who are in a similar situation to him is simple.
“You must not say that it’s the end of the road. Be strong, God is in you and you are still a human being. You can do anything that you put your mind to.”
The local community have all been inspired by Makgobela and are all banding together to help raise funds for Makgobela to get him to his next race. If you want to assist then click the link to follow this thread.