Courage took me off the fence and into the Olympics

 
 
 

Sello Maduma thought his friends looked ridiculous in their fencing get up. Though he followed them to their training sessions throughout his teenage years to show support, he never thought that he too might one day don the white jumper and mesh mask. But over time his apprehension evolved into curiosity, which in turn gave birth to the courage he needed to try.

“When I started, it was known as an elite sport,” Maduma explains. Aside from stigma, the development club where he learnt the craft fought against a lack of funding and equipment. But Maduma’s desire was greater than his circumstances. He persevered. And now he has his own fencing suit, with the green and gold emblazoned on his shoulder.

The young man from Mamelodi is the only black fencer to have won the South African championships and represent his country at the Olympics. “If you’re open to possibilities, you’ll be surprised at what you might discover,” says Maduma, who never would have known his potential in fencing had he not overcome his reservations about the unusual sport. Don’t be fooled by appearances – there’s a right time to drop your guard.