Darryn August who was left paralysed from the waist down after he was thrown out of a moving train in April last year, has set his eyes on the 2020 Paralympics which will take place in Tokyo, Japan.
The 28-year-old who was previously from Hazendal and now stays in Schaapkraal, is hard at work training for the event.
Mr August’s life changed when he boarded the train at Hazendal station on his way to work in Somerset West, on Monday April 25 last year (“Help pours in for man thrown from train”, Athlone News, May 11 2016).
Nine men who also boarded the train, started robbing passengers when the train left Firgrove station with only four people on board.
Mr August was seated closest to the door, making him the first target. He was robbed of his sling bag, which contained his iPad, ID, train ticket and some cash.
As the robbers approached a pregnant commuter in the corner of the carriage, he stood up and defended the woman. In turn he was stabbed in his head and hit with a crowbar. He was then thrown out of the moving train and landed against a tree causing injury to his spine.
He still had his backpack on his back and used his cellphone, which was in one of the pockets, to call an ambulance and the police. However, no help came and he lost conciousness.
Three hours later a maintenance worker found him lying on the side of the tracks and called the ambulance.
He was taken to Hottentots Holland Hospital in Somerset West and later transferred to Tygerberg Hospital where he was operated on after both his lungs collapsed.
Mr August, however, has used his experience to inspire others by working as a motivational speaker in Hazendal and Bokmakierie.
He said for the past year he had been training for the para-cycling, and para-canoeing events at the upcoming Paralympic Games.
Mr August said recovering from the incident had been challenging as he had to adapt to the challenges of being restricted to a wheelchair and figure out what he could and couldn’t do.
Before the incident, he worked as a surf coach – which is one of the things he misses doing the most.
“It’s been tough. You have to be dedicated and steadfast with your training; it will be extremely difficult if I don’t train very hard.”
He said his main goal was to inspire others living on the Cape Flats and to represent South Africa.
“My message to people is that your physical ability cannot be determined by what people see. It’s about your mental capacity.
“I want to make Athlone – and South Africa on the whole – proud in a different way. I love South Africa and the Cape Flats. People here have so much talent in various ways,” he said.