Ernst van Dyk

Ernst van Dyk

When you have been dealt the cards I have been dealt in life, you have to make sense of it. Faith is one of the ways to do that, to have an understanding with your Maker and to figure out what is your purpose in life.

I thought I was given a disability to overcome and that was part of my process of growing up and how the Lord wanted to teach me to be a better person. I realized He had given me a talent to perform well on the world scene, to inspire people and to make people realize that when they think there is no way out, that there is actually a way out.

I travel a lot, am on the road a lot and am alone a lot. Having Jesus is like having a friend on the road with me. When things get too much for you or you feel alone or get down because you are not getting the results, it is so easy to talk to Him and be there and get guidance and feel the warmth.

The Games in 1992 were great. I was 17 years old, and we went to Barcelona. It was the first time I went to the Paralympics and everything was perfect – the village, the stadium, the venues and thousands of spectators coming to watch. It was great. Athens was one of my best Paralympics so far. I got two silver medals and a bronze medal on the track. At Beijing, after 20 years of trying, I finally won a gold-medal in hand cycling.

Born with a congenital birth defect, Ernst van Dyk has no legs from the knees down and one arm is slightly affected. He has competed in three sports in five Paralympics, winning gold, two silvers and three bronze medals. He will compete for South Africa in the 2012 Paralympics in handcycling and the marathon.  

Photo by Stuart Weir, Verite Sports