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Update: Top accolade for talented Maria

Maria Combrink from Delville scooped the Disabled Sportswoman of the Year award at the Gauteng Sports Awards last Sunday.

Local athlete Maria Combrink (GCN, September 29) has been named Disabled Sportswoman of the Year at the Gauteng Sports Awards ceremony.

The ceremony, held last Sunday, saw Maria come up against two other extremely talented sportswomen Kgothatso Montjane (wheelchair tennis) and Sandra Khumalo (para-rowing).

After the win an elated Maria said, “I am honoured and humbled to have won; the other two finalists are wonderful sportswomen.”

The Delville resident attributed her success to many things.

Maria Combrink with Pitso Mosimane (from Mamelodi Sundowns) at the Gauteng Sports Awards ceremony last Sunday, where Maria was named Disabled Sportswoman of the Year.

“My parents helping me to participate in sport from a young age, my spouse and friends supporting me, being disciplined and knowing what goals I am working towards have all helped me.

“Also people with knowledge who have offered me their time, namely Marc Booysens at Wits Sport Science and Marco du Plooy for my prosthetics, Maryke Bronkhorst for nutritional advice and Teresa Visser for coaching.”

Teresa Visser, her coach, said, “Although she was up against very stiff competition with the other two finalists, I am extremely proud of her winning the award.

“She has worked very hard to achieve what she has achieved this year, and she absolutely deserved the recognition.

“A huge thank you to CGSAPD and SASAPD for their behind-the-scenes support and assistance as well, and for what they do for sport for people with disabilities.”

Maria, who admits she is an eternal student, said that she manages to balance her academics and her athletics (shot-put and discus).

She practices her athletics early in the mornings and then again in the afternoon as her MSc was by research so she was able to manage her time really well.

When asked how she thinks this achievement will influence her sporting career she said, “I have no idea, hopefully it will act as a bit of a springboard for my work with young girls and women amputees, as well as help me to gain sponsorships.”

The trophy she won.

Maria feels that sport is still regarded mainly as a male dominated arena, except for the more graceful disciplines such as synchronised swimming, gymnastics, and netball.

“It is very important for young girls to be part of sport, sport teaches one many different values and lessons that you can apply in your day to day life.

“You learn about teamwork, discipline, losing and also about winning gracefully.

“Sport also allows you to really feel how powerful and capable your body is,” she said.

Maria’s immediate plans for the future include competing in the South African National Championships in Bloemfontein, next year.

“I would also like to see if I can find sponsors to attend one or two of the European Grand Prix circuit events in 2018.

“This will help to ensure that I get chosen for the SA parathletics team to compete at the World Parathletics Championships in 2019, which of course will be setting the stage for the Paralympics Tokyo 2020,” Maria said.

“I would also like to become more involved with sport, specifically with amputees.

“I don’t think one has to compete at a high level such as provincial or international, to benefit from sport.

“Just the basic thing to be able to run again post lower limb amputation, or climb, or swim – I would like to be involved in clinics that help amputees to find activity again.”

Maria feels that currently the support for female athletes does not necessary reflect their success, but their marketability.

 

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“I think that companies can definitely invest more towards sponsorships for female athletes – especially athletes who compete in sport codes as individuals and not as a team.

“Companies must realise that the sponsorship is not only towards that female athlete, but it is also towards igniting passion and discipline and hope in younger girls and other women,” Maria said.

Besides being an athlete and an eternal student Maria loves geology, the ocean, hiking, puzzles and crosswords.

“I am a lover of life, trying to live with passion, love and following my truth.

“I love laughing, I love working and making a difference – even if it is a small difference in someone’s life.

“My motto is ‘Why not? Let’s give it a try! And why not me?’,” she said.

 

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  AUTHOR
Melissa Hart
Editor

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