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NPR’s Poetry Gold Goes To…Mbali Vilakazi from South Africa!
Two weeks ago, we highlighted NPR’s Poetry Games, an international poetry competition celebrating Olympic athletes. This morning, NPR announced the winner: Mbali Vilakazi of South Africa, for her poem “Swim Your Own Race.”
Vilakazi was inspired by fellow South African Natalie du Toit, a swimmer who lost her leg as a teenager. In 2008, Du Toit made history as the first woman amputee to qualify for the Olympics.
“As a young person trying to find my own way, there have been challenges that I’ve had to face and at times … I really felt that they were insurmountable,” Vilakazi explains.
Vilakazi was particularly impressed by the swimmer’s ability to adapt in the face of adversity; du Toit was already an accomplished swimmer when she lost her leg in a scooter accident at 17. Yet she carried on.
“It’s not about what happens to you, it’s about how quickly you can get up,” Vilakazi says. “And I think that that’s what the Olympics is all about. … That’s what I love, and that’s what I hold onto.”
Hear the winning poem read by Vilakazi here!