2 April 2013
There’s a saying that when life gives you lemons you should make lemonade. One man who has done that is former Sharks winger Cedric Mkhize, who was left paralyzed after a car crash outside Welkom in 2007. On 28 April, he will compete in the aQuelle Tour Durban as a hand cyclist.
Once a speedy winger, Mkhize has now set his sights on representing South Africa at the Paralympic Games. He retains the same determination and competitive spirit that he showed in his youth, and his ambition remains as strong as ever.
“Long term, I would like to represent the country on the international stage, such as the Paralympics, and to become a world champion and bring home the gold medal,” said Mkhize. “I would also like to be an ambassador for the sport.”
He got into cycling through the energetic head of the Quadriplegics Association of South Africa, Ari Seirlis, who is a keen hand cyclist.
“A friend asked me if I would enjoy cycling and I said I would love to try it out. I did some research and then a good friend of mine, Ari Seirlis, got me to contact Ernst Van Dyk on how to get me a hand cycle. After then I didn’t look back,” Mkhize explained.
Last year, he completed the 45km hand cycle race in second place, finishing in just inside of two hours. “My bike wasn’t changing the gears properly, which made most the race a struggle,” he recalled. “I must say that I had fun doing it and chances are that I’ll probably do it every year.
“GreenOffice has a cycling team and they help all the disabled riders with a push here and there on the up hills as they can be very challenging for some,” he continued.
“The toughest part is making time to train when one works full time.”
Mkhize said the lack of consideration and courtesy from vehicle drivers was a particular problem for hand cyclists, who are less visible on the road than other riders.
“The biggest challenge about getting some road training is competing with motorists as they battle to see us [hand cyclists] being so low on the ground,” he said.
The sport has opened new horizons to Mkhize, who wants to use his profile to champion the sport and raise awareness of the ongoing fundraising drives to purchase more hand cycles.
“I love the freedom it gives me and the fact that I am doing it lying down!” he laughed.
“The truth is I enjoy it because it a sport, so it keeps me involved in sport and I get to compete in nationally recognized events. Hopefully soon I will be taking part in internationally recognized events and ultimately the Paralympics.”
Seirlis is solidly backing Mkhize at every turn, saying his attitude and tenacity is inspirational.
“He has inspired many by his choice to participate in mainstream events and life,” said Seirlis. “In 2012, I had the privilege to accompany him on an off-road motorbike ride from Johannesburg to Ballito – 1 000 kilometres of off-road adventure and elements.”
“He showed resilience, stamina and bravery and rode into Ballito covered in mud and glory. Cedric empowers our vision, extends our limits and show us that we can grasp that little bit further.”
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