Being a Paralympic athlete is definitely not one of the easy things to do, but to the athletes living with a disability, it takes courage and determination to push themselves beyond their boundaries.
Most of the time people are afraid to talk about disability and even to ask those in that position about their lives, because of fear of maybe offending them. Whenever people see the athletes living with a disability competes, it is pity that they sometimes feel for them, not realising that those people do not really need pity.
One local Paralympic athlete Tuelo Buru said they are not even bothered about that. He said that people should not put themselves under any pressure in order to make disability digestible, or make them feel better, because after all they are used to being stared at. He said that people should stop positioning disability as a dire existence which can only be overcome by the most courageous. Buru said that it is time that they are not considered as heroes, but rather as athletes who just happen to be living with a disability. World renowned paralympian Oscar Pistorius once said that ‘a race should just be a race’.
The 23-year-old Buru - who cannot see at all due to glaucoma - oozed confidence, saying that he faces his challenges head-on. Buru went completely blind when he was doing standard five, and it was in the same year that he started learning with braille. Despite those challenges he successfully completed his PSLE to go into junior school and successfully completed his Cambridge. When we got to University of Botswana (UB) where he is pursuing a degree in Adult Education, Buru was listening to hip hop music, which he says it is his favourite. Local hip hop artists Noello and ATI are his favourites; internationally there is Eminem. He said though there are numerous challenges for someone like him, he always makes sure that he travails through it all. Before he lost his sight, Buru played the sport that he loved, which was karate. He has since switched to athletics. He said though his first love was karate, right now he loves athletics as much as he used to love karate. They are under the Paralympic Association of Botswana (PASSOBO), which is a Botswana National Sports Council (BNSC) affiliate. This has seen Buru compete in international competitions like the SCSA Zone 6 championships that were hosted in Lusaka among others. He said lack of finances is hindering them from taking part in many international games. “I wish we could be able to take part in many international games, but it seems like our organisation is struggling with funds,” Buru said. Of course since he is visually impaired, he cannot be able to compete on his own. He has a guide who helps him to lead him on the track. He appreciated one of his friends who always make time to take him for training. He also appreciates students that assist them with the typing of assignments, researching and even just helping them move around at UB. On whether his condition didn’t deter him from being the athlete that he has always hoped to be, Buru said he is a firm believer in oneself that whatever he wants to do he can be able to do it. He emphasised that the important thing for those that have challenges is for them to accept that there are things that they cannot do.
Among Buru’s icons is Oscar Pistorious. He said locally he admires Nijel Amos though he is not challenged as him because the local athlete came from nowhere to find his way to the top. He said people should stop distressing about them because they can just do anything, even more than the people who do not have any challenge, the simplest example being making it to university despite the challenges.