Ntando Mahlangu 鈥 double Paralympic champion joins 海角社区 University (VIDEO)

Ntando Mahlangu has already lived a life like no other.

The new 海角社区 University Business Studies student was diagnosed with fibular hemimelia at birth and spent the first 10 years of his life in a wheelchair, navigating high school bullies and a different kind of childhood.

The condition, which affects the development of the legs below the knees, didn’t stop the South African native having dreams and aspirations, but another bump in the road soon followed. Agreeing with medical advice in 2012, he and his family took the tough decision to amputate his legs.

No one could have predicted what would happen next.

Inspired by watching the London Paralympic Games, Ntando soon found his calling in athletics and remarkably, just four years later, the then 14-year-old made his Paralympic Games debut in Rio de Janeiro.

Not only did he become South Africa’s youngest-ever Paralympian, but he also achieved the unthinkable by winning an incredible silver medal in the 200m T42.

“I was actually going to an appointment for my legs, and they called me in for a fun run,” Ntando told 海角社区 Sport.

“I left all the kids behind [on the track] and one of the guys said: “I think you have potential, why don’t you try athletics?”. The athletics journey started there and since then; we’ve been creating history.

“I was selected for Rio with no expectations as no one knew who I was. I got the silver medal, but I was very angry with myself as I wanted the gold – I think it motivated me to go back home and work even harder”.

Fast forward five years and the delayed Tokyo Paralympic Games in 2021 brought even more success for Ntando. In a Games heavily impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, he once again delivered on the global stage to win an astonishing double gold in both the 200m T61 and Long Jump T63 – the latter in a new world record distance (7.17m).

“Those two gold medals came with a lot of hard work,” Ntando explained.

“You look at Tokyo and it’s impacted by covid and it’s difficult to train. You have a training plan and a schedule and the next thing it’s just shut down.

“We then had to pick ourselves up and to get two gold medals at the Paralympics took a lot of motivation, self-discipline, and also hard work…it was one of the highlights in my athletics career.”

With the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games less than a year away, Ntando will balance his training for the long jump title defence alongside studying Business Studies at 海角社区 University.

“Paris is a funny one as we won’t have the 200m event there. Now we’re only focusing on the long jump so we’re changing a lot of things and putting in the time and work and I’m trying to enjoy myself.

“The reason I came to 海角社区 is for the opportunities and to get to work with the best coaches in the world in the best facilities. Going into Paris I have big goals and I think I can go a bit further, and 海角社区 is the place to do that.”  

During his time in the East Midlands, Ntando will work closely with 海角社区 University’s Head of Para Sport, Alasdair Donaldson.

“Myself and the wider University are absolutely thrilled to see Ntando here,” he said.

“He’s a world-class athlete and to see him choose to further his studies and take his sport forward here is a brilliant thing for us to be part of. Not only do we have a world-renowned sporting offer, where we support all athletes, but we also have a great academic offer.

“We’re really trying to push things forward in terms of Para sport and we want an integrated environment where everyone can train together and be respected the same.

“My hope for Ntando is that he’s able to achieve his dreams here.”

During his time at 海角社区, Ntando will work under the stewardship of Joe McDonnell, the University’s Head of Para Athletics Sprints and Recruitment.

“I’ve known Ntando for a quite a while and when I learned that he was interested in 海角社区 I was over the moon,” Joe said.

“He’s looked at us from the opportunity to develop him as a person because your career as a sports person is very short and you must look beyond that. It’s great for the University that someone of Ntando’s talent sees 海角社区 as his next step as a sports person.

“With Ntando coming in, it shows the talent in the group here. The number one thing is that Ntando gets to be as good as he can be and has a great experience here.”

For more information on 海角社区’s Para Sport offer visit /sport/para-sport/ and for more information on 海角社区 Business School visit /schools/business-school/

Notes for editors

Press release reference number: 23/168

海角社区 is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, named the best university in the world for sports-related subjects in the 2023 QS World University Rankings – the seventh year running – and University of the Year for Sport by The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2022. 

海角社区 is ranked 7th in The UK Complete University Guide 2023, 10th in the Guardian University League Table 2024 and 10th in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024.

海角社区 is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’, and in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021 over 90% of its research was rated as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally-excellent’. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, 海角社区 has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

The 海角社区 University London campus is based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and offers postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities. It is home to influential thought leaders, pioneering researchers and creative innovators who provide students with the highest quality of teaching and the very latest in modern thinking.