Why Liezel is


Remember the name Liezel Gouws. It is a name that will go down in history.

Liezel Gouws, who has cerebral palsy, is a symbol of perseverance.

This fourth-year pharmacy student at the NWU is the best at what she does. In the world. Literally. Ever. No person has run the 800 m in the T37 category faster. She first accomplished this remarkable feat in 2008 on home soil before improving her record in 2018.


Liezel has cerebral palsy but the notion that it is an affliction is one she dismisses with a smile.


In 2016 she was part of the SA Paralympic team who participated in the Rio de Janeiro games. She made the finals in both the 100 m and 400 m events. May her competitors be grateful that the 800 m is not an Olympic event.


The day her world changed


These feats, however unrivalled, do not erase the trials that she had to endure as a five-year-old one fateful day when her world changed irrevocably.


She had a seizure, a massive one. It happened after her cousin’s wedding in East London where she had been a flower girl. Later, she felt light-headed, then more so, and then she woke up unable to move her limbs.


“I remember everything about that day,” she recalls, without a trace of self-pity. “I am grateful; if it had happened later in my life, it would have been worse.”


Sign for the fledging eagle to soar


Her family, especially her two older brothers, were enamoured with sport and she persuaded her mother that she could weave the same athletic magic. Her mother concurred and she excelled.


“I started training with my peers at school and in Grade 7 I found out that there were competitions where children with disabilities could compete.” For the matriculant from Wesvalia in Klerksdorp, that was the signal for a fledgling eagle to soar. And soar she did.


Now her sights are firmly set on the 2021 Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. The grandest stage awaits again.

"I am grateful; if it had happened later in my life, it would have been worse," says pharmacy student and athlete Liezel Gouws, recalling the day her life changed forever.