GEORGE NEWS & VIDEO - A joyous welcome awaited George's own Down Syndrome world record swimmer Minke Janse van Rensburg upon arrival at George Airport on Monday. The petite thirteen-year-old proudly showed her two silver and two bronze medals to her Carpe Diem classmates who sang and waved flags in her honour.
The sunny champ, who has been winning hearts everywhere, accepted the fluffy toys, flowers and hugs with a big grin.
The brave teenager was the youngest member of the South African team of nine who competed at the 9th Down Syndrome World Championships held in Truro, Canada. Minke, who has only been swimming competitively for two and a half years, managed to break two world records and five Africa records in Durban and Canada in the past weeks, competing against older and more experienced swimmers.
The Janse van Rensburg family had to swallow their disappointment when dad Hennie was refused a visa to accompany his daughter on her epic journey at the very last minute. The long-haul destination entailed four flights to get to Truro and four flights back to George via Frankfort and Johannesburg. "She took it well when we explained the situation to her," said her dad.
Her mom Aletta remarked, "She overcame her nerves at having to travel on an international flight. And video clips show her making friends with other competitors and even giving them a comforting back rub. She is a very loving girl. But when it comes to competing, she becomes totally focused on winning."
Aletta feels it is a blessing that she has done so well as this has boosted her confidence and sense of self-reliance. The busy mother, who runs three crèches, vowed to spend more time with her daughter.
Watch a video below:
Playing with friends
When asked, Minke said she was looking forward to playing. "I want to play with my Nerve gun." (This toy shoots foam rubber). She also looks forward to visiting the Spur, where she loves having a hearty steak meal and playing soccer in the children's section; and being reunited with her school friends.
Apart from competing in Canada, she slew records in the Durban TYR swimming championships.
After enjoying a bear hug from her mother Aletta, Minke was ready to accept fluffy toys, flowers and hugs from the excited classmates, deputy headmaster Elzeth Grobler and coaches Joànne Fransman and Sybeth Hughes.