HARARE - For fitness enthusiast and Mr Zimbabwe Wheelchair bodybuilder first runner-up — Francis Mashingauta — being disabled is not an issue that causes him sleepless nights anymore.
He is enjoying a world in which most able-bodied athletes find tough yet when he was six years old it appeared Mashingauta’s path had ended before it had even started when he had one leg amputated.
Children of his age then found it very hard not to give him the stares and he would often feel isolated because of his condition.
Now 48, the 2015 Mr Zimbabwe Wheelchair bodybuilding first runner-up, is enjoying the rewards of his perseverance.
“I fell in love with bodybuilding when I was just 12, when I met former Zimbabwe light-heavyweight wrestling champion Spider Bhamu in Braeside who encouraged me to take up the sport particularly for self-defence,” Mashingauta told the Daily News.
“He taught me defensive style, karate and wrestling. I later met Oliver Tengende, a wrestling heavyweight champion then and this time we were now staying in Southerton and naturally the love for the sport grew.”
While the love for bodybuilding was developed in the early years of childhood, it took Mashingauta 36 years to take a crack at the sport and the results were instant.
He was behind the eventual winner — Marko Mwale — in the 2015 Mr Zimbabwe Wheelchair bodybuilding finals.
“It was my first time competing in bodybuilding. All along I had seen Marko Mwale as just an ordinary bodybuilder who was lacking competition hence the reason why he dominated this category for so long,” Mashingauta said.
“It was a great achievement for me, coming second. I noted down my weaknesses, I wasn’t well cut in muscles but had good biceps and can only get better with more outings.”
The 48-year-old athlete is a proud owner of Southerton Gym. Apart from the gym, he is also full time into carpentry where he specialises in partitioning, ceilings and office furniture among other products.
“The gym equipment is a bit old though and we need to keep abreast with the latest trends. My day starts at 5am everyday, exercising in the gym and by 8am I should be at work,” he said.
But the early childhood challenges he faced did not kill off his passion for sports.
He featured in many disciplines including playing cricket in high school.
“I really loved sports but because of my condition the coach felt I was best suited as a wicketkeeper where I would be stationed behind the stumps and batting-wise.
“I also did shot-put, discus, javelin at inter-schools level and after school I ended up bouncing for the legendary Oliver Mtukudzi and Alick Macheso between 2004 and 2010.
“I really enjoyed their music and was doing this out of passion although I would get paid for it.”