Young SA fencer finds himself at Olympic village
Most people in Given Maduma’s community did not even know what fencing was when news spread that the young South African had qualified for the Olympics.
Maduma, the first black male fencer to make the national team, found himself having to explain what exactly he was going to do in China.
“People just did not know about it ... They would see me with my bag going to training and nobody understood,” he said.
“But I got a big farewell party when I left, even people I did not know were there at the airport to wish me well.”
Maduma, who is 21, comes from the Mamelodi township outside Pretoria where the few who know about fencing considered it a sport for wealthier whites.
While most young black South Africans play soccer, Maduma took up fencing eight years ago after watching some of his friends training at the only local club.
“It was not something I dreamt of doing ... but one day I decided to take it up and I really got a good hiding the first time around.”
“Once I got to it, I decided I wanted to do major international competitions or at least be in the top ten in the country, and with some perseverance here am I in the Olympic village,” he said.
With no major international competitions under his belt, he is the least experienced of the four male fencers South Africa has brought to Beijing but that has not stopped him from looking to a place in the finals.
South Africa has brought 131 athletes to Beijing representing 19 sporting codes at the Games.
But all eyes will be on swimmer Natalie Du Toit, who lost her left leg in a motorcycle accident in 2001, a year after narrowly failing to qualify for the Sydney Games.
But in May the 24-year-old qualified for the 10-km open water event and she could become the first amputee to win a medal at a Summer Games for 56 years. - Reuters