He is a world record holder in his own right, yet he is not getting the recognition he deserves, “unlike Wayde van Niekerk”, says Martinique du Preez.
The 20-year-old from Kraaifontein this week returned victorious from the World Transplant Games in Spain.
About 2 400 athletes who’ve had organ transplants competed at the Games over the past two weeks.
Martinique bagged four medals, including a gold for ball throw, for which he holds the world record.
A handful of family and friends on Monday welcomed the champion home at the Cape Town International Airport.
“It’s a shame that I’m not getting the recognition from government like Wayde van Niekerk,” says Martinique.
“I brought four medals home, and I’m a world champion in my class but no one appreciates or supports us.”
Olympic gold medallist Wayde, who is also from Kraaifontein, currently holds the world record in the men’s 400m.
Martinique also received a silver medal for javelin and long jump, as well as a bronze medal in the 100-metre sprint.
Martinique lost a kidney when he was just 14 years old, after being diagnosed with an uncommon disease called mesangiocapillary glomerulonephritis, an inflammation of the small blood vessels or capillary loops in the kidneys.
Doctors didn’t hold much hope for him and predicted that he would only live to the age of 18.
Both of his kidneys were removed, and his life was saved when he received a kidney from a man from Ocean View, who had been shot and killed.
“It’s only through the power of God that I was healed. I dedicate these medals to God,” says Martinique.
His mom Shantol September, 39, says they discovered Martinique was gravely ill in 2011, when his body suddenly started swelling.
“He has only one kidney, but that didn’t slow him down,” the proud mom says.
“I am very proud of the 53 athletes that represented South Africa at the World Transplant Games. They brought home 51 medals and our country was ranked sixth in the world.”
Her cousin, Apostle Douglas Bell, adds: “Even though some people lost hope, we always knew he was going to do something special. And here Cape Town has another world champ!”