BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
SPECIAL Olympics golfer Sharlene Sanangurai is one athlete who has not let her intellectual disability stand in her way to achieving her dreams.
The 24-year-old is one of the four golfers who represented Zimbabwe at the Macau Golf Masters in Hong Kong in April.
The event is the biggest golf tournament in the world for athletes with intellectual disabilities and Sanangurai managed to bring home a silver medal to add to a bronze that she won in South Africa a couple of years ago.
Sanangurai missed the Special Olympic Games in the United Arab Emirates earlier this year due to a heart condition that does not allow extremely hot environment.
The former Gateway High School student has many dreams including winning a gold medal for Zimbabwe one day.
“I want to train hard so that I can be strong and healthy. I also want to win a gold medal one day,” Sanangurai told Sports Hub.
Sanangurai is also a good bocce player, but she opted to pursue golf instead and is of the view that golf is easy to play.
“It’s easy, anyone can play golf. You just need to practise, and when your golf putting is good you can qualify for tournaments and win medals, which is exciting. You also need to practise every Thursday and Saturday,” she said, visibly excited to talk about golf.
She explains how it all began.
“I was at school at Gateway High School when I started playing golf with the help of my teacher. Since then I have been practising hard and kept on being strong and everything is good.”
The trip to Hong Kong remains a highlight for Sanangurai especially considering that it’s where she won her recent accolade and the memories are still vivid.
“My best country was Hong Kong. It is good. There are nice places and we did a lot of activities and also played golf. I won a silver medal there,” she said.
Away from golf, Sanangurai has been recommended to be an ambassador for girls with intellectual disability in Africa. She is currently going through training for public speaking.
Sanangurai has other talents and interests also far away from fairways, bunkers and putting greens.
“I do beading in my spare time and I make necklaces, bracelets and earrings. I am very good at it and I sell those beads to make money. I learnt the beading at Gateway and from Gogo Chitsungo,” Sanangurai revealed.
“I read the Bible because it teaches us what is good and what is not good. I want to be a pastor and to preach to people at church and also become a business woman,” she added.
“My advice to other girls who want to play golf is that they must not sleep too much. They must wake up early and clean the dishes and then practise golf. They should also be strong, they should not give up,” she said.
Sanangurai was born with intellectual disability and attention disorder but at first doctors thought it was autism.
In 2017, she developed a heart problem and had a major heart valve replacement. She is occasionally in and out of the hospital.
“Sharlene is very unique. She cannot speak or read Shona, but we don’t know how that happened. I think she is good in languages and she now communicates with her brother in Chinese,” her mother Tracy Sanangurai said.
“We want her to achieve all her dreams including golf. We want her to be the best golfer in the world and we want her to bring gold from the Special Olympics,” she added. Sharlene has two siblings namely Brandon and Marlene.