Mujaji relives his glory days

ZVISHAVANE - He spent two months in coma after suffering a deadly electrical accident at work that left him paralysed.

But Elliot Mujaji did not let the disability dampen his dream of competing at the highest stage in his chosen sport, athletics.

DOWN AND OUT: Elliot Mujaji looks at the electronic board after a race at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. 

Mujaji’s suffered severe burns on his right hand after the incident and it had to be amputated. 

After having been a member of the country’s athletics team for the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Malaysia, Mujaji did not let the injury deter him from continuing with his fledging athletics career.

Two years after suffering that life-threatening injury, Mujaji completed his recovery by winning a gold medal at the 2000 Sydney Paralympic Games.

He kept the country spell bound as thousands of Zimbabweans were glued to their television sets every time Mujaji was competing while in Sydney.

The Paralympic sprinter gave the nation hope after a dismal campaign a few months earlier during the Sydney Olympic Games where Zimbabwe failed to win a single medal at any of the events.

Mujaji went on to win the country’s first ever gold medal at the Paralympics romping to victory in the 100m race.

The Zimbabwean was unlucky not to claim a double after he was disqualified from the 200m event for encroaching into another athlete’s lane.

The 200m event has always been Mujaji’s preferred race and he confirmed it by going on to win gold at the World Paralympics Championships held in France in 2002.

“That was my best race. I cherish it so much because my timing was good. In a nutshell it was a grand event,” Mujaji tells the Daily News of that final at the World Champs.

The Zvishavane-based athlete was back to repeat his heroics at the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens, Greece where he won gold in the 100m.

Mujaji, who is now 41, went on to represent the country at the 2008 and 2012 Paralympics Games in Beijing and London respectively.

But with age fast catching up with the sprinter, he could not repeat those same feats which brought him fame in Sydney and Athens.

His swansong was the London Games and he has now turned his remaining energy together with wisdom and experience to groom athletes in his home town of Zvishavane.

Mujaji also doubles up as the provincial coach for the Midlands Province National Youth Games team.

His parting note to disabled athletes is that they should take sport as a career.

“There are a lot of benefits that can be accrued from athletics by the disabled. When I started I didn’t have much but now I am a proud owner of a number of assets through athletics,” he said.

“It’s now a form of employment. With good sponsorship the country has a lot of talent which is wasting away because of lack of proper grooming and training.

“Also there is need for more competitions because the more competitions we have locally the more chances that we have as a country to get medals at international tournaments because our athletes will be competitive enough.”

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