Help a para-athlete with a heart of gold
Manie Blom is ranked number 1 in the world for the discus event and has the gold medal set firmly in his sights. He needs some help getting to the world ParaAthletics in London that take place between the 14 and 23 July 2017.
Manie is the business!
He is ranked number 1 in the world for the discus event and has the gold medal set firmly in his sights. Manie needs some help getting to the world ParaAthletics in London that take place between the 14 and 23 July 2017. The athletes have to carry all of the costs themselves – he will need the total amount of R60 000 to cover flights and sundries so that he can go to London and fulfil his dream of winning a gold medal.
Can you help?
You’d have to have a heart of stone not to fall in love with Manie Blom.
I had the great pleasure of meeting Manie when he joined the Dotcloud team on a trip down to Durban for a golf day. On first meeting, I assumed that Manie was all brawn, but no sooner had we reached the first set of robots and my assumptions were blown out of the water. Manie is a gentle giant with a sharp wit and a quick sense of humour. Manie only has 10 percent vision – he was born with Stargardt macular dystrophy. This causes progressive degeneration of the macula, which is a small area in the centre of the retina that is responsible for sharp, straight-ahead vision. Most of the degeneration occurs between the ages of 8 and 25. He is now 30 and his vision is stable other than the degeneration that we are all subject to due to ageing.
Manie has a zest for life and nothing gets in his way; his approach to his disability is to “work around it”. Manie grew up in the small mining town of Machadadorp where he went to a regular school – he had to rely on his friends to take notes for him, and the only concession granted during exams was a paper with bigger text but no extra time, as that was deemed unfair to the other learners. He managed to pass matric, played rugby, ran, and later even took up mountain biking where he tackled all the gnarly trails and table tops – ending up with a few holes after each ride didn’t seem to dampen his enthusiasm!
Manie is a born athlete, and before taking up the discus and shotput events he was running the 400m competitively.
His running career was cut short due to a horrific accident – one evening he was hit by a scrambler while walking back home from a game of pool with one of his friends. He broke his right leg below the knee and all the ligaments in his left knee were very badly damaged. It took four years to recover and it was during this time that he took up mountain biking with his friend Erich. During one of their rides, they took a bet – Erich would do the 94.7 and Manie would go back to Athletics – probably a safer bet than mountain biking! Running was out of the question, so Manie would enter for the shot put and the discus events at the National Champs in Germiston. He was at quite a disadvantage as he had never taken part in either of the disciplines, and both rely heavily on technique. His aim was to beat the South African record in shot put. He smashed both records! He threw 46.78m for discus and 11.6m for shot put. In his next competition in Bloemfontein, he broke both records again- 48.63m for discus and 13.97m for shot put, and once again in Port Elizabeth where he threw 50.11m for discus and 14.79m for shot put. He currently holds the South African and African records in both the discus and shot put. This year he came 6th in the discus at the able-bodied champs in Potchefstroom.
Being ranked number 1 in the world means that Manie is a real contender to win the gold medal in the F12 category for discus at the Para World Champs in London.
The para governing body is not able to pay for all of the competitors, and the cost is enormous – the athletes have to pay for their own flights, accommodation and food, for their national kit, and for entry fees. On top of this visas will also be required. The amount needed to cover all of these costs is R60 000. Manie has a certificate in Human Health and Fitness Science and works as a personal trainer between preparing hard for competitions, and there is no way that he will be able to shoulder these costs alone.
Manie is a phenomenal athlete who has sweated blood and tears to get where he is today, but he is more than this – he is a true ambassador – one of the most genuine of people that you could ever hope to meet. Manie’s dream involves more than winning gold medals: he dreams of elevating the status of para-athletes to that of athletes without disabilities. With the help of his club, Isability, and the hard work of the club manager Fred Furstenberg, great progress has already been made. The club started Jumping Kids which provides prosthetic equipment to children with disabilities from disadvantaged backgrounds. Manie gives back, with a smile!