Maria Combrink among SA athletes hoping to raise the flag at Paralympics

“I took part in the discus, shot put, and powerlifting and managed to throw qualifying distance for discus for Tokyo 2021. And I broke the world record for Shot Put Women F64 and set a new SA Record for para powerlifting women 86+kg,” said Combrink.

South African para-athlete Maria Combrink during a para-powerlifting competition at the 2021 Toyota South African Sports Association for the Physically Disabled (SASAPD) National Championships in Gqeberha. Picture: @SASAPD

JOHANNESBURG - The worldwide outbreak of COVID-19 saw the postponement of the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Despite the pandemic, the Games are set to go ahead this year in less than 100 days and the best athletes around the globe will head to Tokyo, Japan, to battle it out for a spot on the podium.

One para-athlete who hopes to be at the Games and flying South Africa’s flag high is para-athlete Maria Combrink.

She broke a world record at the recent 2021 Toyota South African Sports Association for the Physically Disabled (SASAPD) National Championships in Gqeberha.

READ: SASAPD championships last chance for SA para-athletes to qualify for Paralympics

“I took part in the discus, shot put, and powerlifting and managed to throw qualifying distance for discus for Tokyo 2021. And I broke the world record for Shot Put Women F64 and set a new SA Record for para powerlifting women 86+kg,” said Combrink.

The multi-talented athlete has a hectic training schedule that pushes her to be at the top of her game in between working and living her life.

“I go to the gym for powerlifting five times a week, I do CrossFit 3 times a week and I do fieldwork or technique 2-4 times a week, depending on my work schedule”.

Combrink acquired her disability after she got injured in a hiking accident and after several operations to try to save her foot, she decided to have the foot amputated.

“I had a slip and fall accident in 2011, which resulted in an extremely bad fracture of the bridge of my foot. This led to numerous operations in the following two years as gallant efforts were made to save my foot. I opted for amputation over complete fusion three years after my accident.”

Not only is she a world record-breaking athlete, Combrink is also involved in the administration aspect of para-sports in South Africa.

"I was part of the Discovery Eagles Wheelchair basketball admin team. Making travel arrangements and ensuring all the paperwork was done - it gives one a unique perspective from both sides - the athlete's expectations and the actual behind the scenes effort that goes into events.”

The athlete who set a new South Africa record in the para-powerlifting 86+kg category has also been nominated as the Gauteng convenor for the sport.

"I have recently been nominated to be the Gauteng convenor for para powerlifting. I believe that as an athlete one has the ability to give a unique perspective. Athletes do not experience competitions the same as administrators, so it is good to be able to assist with the expectations of athletes and to ensure that communication happens when and how it should.”

Combrink said she whould like to see a greater investment in young para-athletes and hoped to create a space where everyone wa welcome to be active.

“I would like to see greater involvement from athletes that acquire their disability later in life by creating a space where everyone is welcome to try their hand at being active. I would also like to see greater investment in younger athletes, especially just after they leave school.”

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