Disability is not inability
…Rooi out to inspire next generation of para-triathletes
• By Michael Uugwanga
JEROMIUS Rooi may be the only para-triathlete in the country and yet he has set his eyes on the bigger picture as he aims to inspire other athletes with the same condition as his to take up the sport.
Rooi (18) who is also a para-swimmer was born in Otjiwarongo, but grew up in Rehoboth, lost his left leg when he was a minor.
Last Saturday, Rooi competed against able-bodied triathletes in the Rand Marchant Bank (RMB) Triathlon Challenge at Lake Oanob Resort, in the outskirt of Rehoboth in the Hardap region, with the aim of testing himself against the best, as the country does not have para-triathletes.
Triathlone consists of three different events, typically swimming, cycling, and long-distance running.
Even though he did not finish on the podium places, Rooi was awarded with a participation certificate. Rooi’s talent was discovered by Jean-Paul Schmidt, who is responsible for new sport code development within the Namibia National Paralympic Committee (NNPC).
Schmidt said he was also responsible for introducing para-athletes to new disciplines.
“My mentor is Schmidt. He is the one who suggested I try out triathlon so that I become the next big thing as the only para-triathlete in the country, that is why I took part in the RMB Triathlon Challenge and it was also my first event in the triathlon. I am also a swimmer in the 100m, 200m and 400m backstroke and Freestyle events. I am currently with Dolphin Swimming Club where I am enjoying myself as an athlete. Being an athlete is really fun.
“What happened to my left leg was actually a mystery, but i can say that I was born with both legs and it is just that something happened to my leg when I was young,” Rooi said.
Rooi is also a first-year student, studying Information and Technology (IT) at Lingua College in Windhoek and uses sport as a way of trying to come to terms with the stigma attached to people living with disabilities.
His focus now is to partake in International clarification competitions to be held in Cairo, Egypt this month and is also set to take part in another competition next month in Pretoria (South Africa).
“It was actually my first triathlon. I got a trophy for participating but was an awesome experience. I will leave for Egypt on 24 November for the international qualifiers and again in December in Pretoria. It is my disability that I am currently struggling with as far as sport is concern. I am trying my level best to overcome my disability and do what I can. I stay alone at the college hostel (Lingua College) in Pioneerspark (Windhoek),” Rooi said.
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