Zanele Situ was a South African Paralympian athlete who became the first Black South African woman to win a Paralympic gold medal (Sydney 2000).
She has mostly competed in the F54 category of throwing events. In 2000, she won silver in the discus and won the gold in javelin (while breaking the world record). In javelin, she also won gold in 2004 and bronze in 2016 – the same year she was flag bearer for the South African team.
Between the ages of 11 and 12, Situ got sick with tuberculosis, which paralyzed her from the waist down. She then moved to Mthatha for what she calls a “special school,” and that’s where she picked up shotput and discus for the first time.
“Any type of sport I see, I just go there and try, just to have fun,” she said. “I love those type of challenges to see how far can I go.”
She made her national team debut in 1996 at the Paralympic World Championships. From 1998 to 2017, Situ consistently made it to the medal podium of the world championships and Paralympic Games.
“I really did just fall in love with javelin,” she says. “I can’t really say why but the more I improved, the more dedicated and committed I became.”
Situ passed away in 2023 at the age of 52.
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