Mhlengi Gwala determined to
recover from "freak attack."
Durban Ė After a successful five hour operation to repair damage
to his lower right leg following an early morning saw attack
while training, triathlete Mhlengi Gwala is focussed on his
recovery, while friends and supporters have written off the
incident as an isolated "freak attack".
Gwala's recovery will be overseen by the KwaZulu-Natal
Department of Sport and Recreation-backed Elite Athlete
Development Programme (EADP), of which he has been a member of
since 2016, and Team South Africa's Olympic Doctor Kevin Subban
visited him in his Durban hospital on Thursday to guide his
recovery and rehabilitation plans.
"Considering the extent of the injury to his right calf, where
he was cut right to the bone through nerves and blood vessels
and the three main muscle groups, the surgery took around five
hours to complete," said Subban.
The 26 year old has already regained feeling in his right foot,
which has the medical team optimistic about his chances of
"Holding him in good stead is his pre-conditioning. He is fit
and healthy which we hope will help him," he added.
Subban said Gwala's strong character would be an asset in his
"From a personality perspective he is such a brilliant guy. All
the other guys that are here and part of the EADP look up to
him," said Subban.
Gwala's recovery and rehabilitation will be driven by the EADP
team at Prime Human Performance Institute based at Durban's
Moses Mabhida Stadium.
"He has everything that he will need right here at Prime and
through the EADP, from doctors, to physio's, to bio's as well as
psychological, and we will continue to provide support from a
"The positive is that the muscles will heal faster but the
concern is the neural side," explained Subban.
"The nerves will take longer to heal and sometime they don't
heal 100 percent. That, in my opinion, is our greatest concern
at this stage," Subban explained.
Police investigating the attack have yet to give any idea of
motive for the incident, but friends and supporters of Gwala
says it won't deter their approach to triathlon training.
Damian Bradley, the organiser of the MiWayLife Durban Ultra
Triathlon that doubled as the SA Ultra Triathlon Championships
that Gwala took part in on the weekend, says the Chesterville
triathlete and professional lifeguard is shocked but feeling
"(His best friend and fellow triathlete) Sandile Shange has been
an unbelievable support to him," said Bradley after visiting
Gwala in hospital.
"Overall Mhlengi is very positive, and says he is tired of being
in hospital already," said Bradley.
Bradley, the triathlon community, as well as the lifesaving
community have rallied around Gwala's recovery, and crowd
funding has raised over R300 000 for him already, most of which
has come from small donations from the large number of people
touched by the senseless attack.
"He is such a gentleman, and has
shown such character to get through tough times in his life to
be the successful triathlete that he is today, that I am sure he
will bounce back from this incident," he added.
"Most of all he doesn't want athletes to be put off by what has
happened to him," said Bradley. "No matter what sport you are
involved in, and whether you are an elite or a recreational
athlete, getting up early to train is part of your lifestyle.
"Mhlengi doesn't want anyone to feel intimidated by this
incident, and to feel that early morning training is no longer
safe. He is adamant that it is a random, senseless attack, and
shouldn't deter anyone from the training routines they are used
to," Bradley said.
Away from triathlon, Gwala is a keen member of the Marine Surf
Lifesaving Club, another group of people that have shown great
concern for the young manís recovery.
Bradley said the Gwala was fortunate to have all the resources
of the EADP at his disposal and some of the best medical experts
on the continent.
"Mhlengi is fortunate to have a world class team looking after
him through the EADP," said Bradley.
"Doc Kevin Subban is positive, and there is a team if
biokineticists and physios that will be there for him every step
of the way," he added.
"He has overcome a lot in his life to be where he is today,
"said EADP director Dennis Jackson, speaking of Gwala's well
documented journey from drug and alcohol dependency. "This will
stand him in good stead in his recovery.
"Not only will he have a great team around him for support but
he will also have his fellow triathletes and many other athletes
who are like a small family who have rallied and will continue
to rally around him," he added.
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