South African sprinter Anruné Weyers arrived in Tokyo with three Paralympic medals to her name, but she was still eyeing the top spot on the podium. On Saturday, her wait came to an end.
The 28-year old won the 400-meters in the T47 classification with a time of 56.05 seconds, taking home South Africa’s first gold medal of the Tokyo Paralympics.
— Team South Africa (@TeamSA2020) August 28, 2021
The win was especially gratifying for Weyers, who got silver in the event at the last two Paralympics, considering she wasn’t sure she would be able to compete in Tokyo after contracting COVID-19. She gave thanks to God for even being able to compete, let alone winning gold.
“To be running and breathing is a big gift for me and I was quite overwhelmed by my emotions because I didn’t do it alone,” she told news24.com. “All glory to God. He was with me when I had COVID-19 when I thought my dream of going to the games was gone. He came and made it our dream.”
Born without a left hand and to a father who struggled with alcoholism, Weyers said it was not always easy to feel like she belonged. Weyers’ challenges were compounded by the fact her dad would attribute his drinking to her disability.
“As a fair-skinned girl in South Africa, I always wanted to portray the perfect image,” Weyers told Sports Spectrum prior to the Tokyo Games. “Add that to the fact that I was born without a left hand, I struggled to know where my place was in the world. I believe God gave me the gift of athletics so I could draw close to Him and know my purpose on earth.”
Weyers would rely on her grandfather for guidance when she was struggling. He would pray with her and read Scripture to her. Those moments led Weyers to pursue her own relationship with God.
She was introduced to sports for people with disabilities when she was 18, and gave her life to Christ the same year she started competing.
“Now I’m so grateful for the journey God has placed me on,” Weyers said. “He’s shown me that He’s on this journey with me. He’s used my talent in athletics to not only win medals and experience victories, but to grow me closer to Him. I know I’m doing this with God.”
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Her Paralympic debut came at the London Games in 2012, when she claimed bronze in the 200m along with the silver in the 400m. Weyers also set a world record in the 400m in 2019, running a 55.60 time at the world championships.
She is scheduled to compete in two more events in Tokyo: the 100m on Tuesday and the 200m on Saturday.
For Weyers, though, the biggest prize of all is being able to spread the love of Christ to as many people as she can through running.
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“I will continue to run until I’m done with what God has for me to do,” she said. “God is pulling me closer and closer to Him, showing me how real He is. In a world of darkness, I want to be a light. I want to be the image of Christ to everyone I can, showing them that God is there for them as He is for me.”
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