Boxing is my passion – Jovanovic
No matter their age, one of the biggest fears of an amputee is that they will never be able to do the things they love the most; that their prosthetic will keep them from having a ‘normal’ life.
28 October 2020 | Sports
There are many athletes like Miki Jovanovic who have undergone life-changing amputations at a young age, yet still find the drive and courage to train.
Born and raised in South Africa, she moved to Namibia four years ago to study and work.
The 24-year-old Jovanovic is a full-time au pair, looking after three children aged six, eight and 12.
In her final year of an honours degree in tourism, hospitality and events management at the International University of Management, she is able to pay for her studies through her work, making her fully independent.
Putting in the work
During her free time, Jovanovic can be found hard at work with local boxing trainer and owner of AC Boxing Academy, Immanuel ‘Ace’ Moses, or at the Katutura Tennis Court, where she has joined Extreme Bootcamp for strength and conditioning training under coach Martin Angombe.
“Once you get comfortable walking around - usually a few months after your first birthday - you tend to take for granted how easy it is to go through life on two legs. Running, swimming, riding a bike and even just standing is so doable on two legs that you're probably not even aware of needing them for it.
“Now, when you have prosthetics, you learn from scratch how to do these things,” Jovanovic, who lost her legs when she was a one-year-old toddler, said.
Learning to do things differently
Soon after her amputation, she learnt to use prosthetic legs. With Paralympics continuing to grow in mainstream popularity, Namibian Sun recently met with her to talk about exactly how her amputation has impacted her ability to run, swim, ride a bike or just go about life.
“I was born with a birth defect called fibular hemimelia, which means the bottom of my legs were deformed at birth.
“My mother made the decision to have both my legs amputated below the knees. I have been wearing prosthetic legs since the age of three, and have the most wonderful doctors in Nelspruit, Mpumalanga in South Africa - BMK Orthopaedics.
“Unfortunately, I did not play any sport in high school, and I regret my decision when I look back today,” Jovanovic said.
With interests in painting and boxing, the young athlete said her ambition is to be the best version of herself she can possibly be, while inspiring others with disabilities to live active, positive lives.
“I started with the bootcamp because my boxing coach went to the US for a fight. The bootcamp is extremely fun and active. At first, I was unsure of whether I would be able to do the exercises, but coach Martin has been really motivating and been helping me and creating new exercises when I struggle.
“He definitely pushes me beyond my limits and I realise that I can do things that I wasn't able to do before, like a run around the court of the bootcamp. I do not do any other sports, and one of the reasons is time.
“With a full-time job and part-time studies in the evening, it is difficult to pursue another sport.”
Even when it’s hard
She added that she motivates herself to keep going on days when she doesn’t feel like training, but said “sometimes it’s good to take a break when your body feels like it needs a rest”.
“I can't be to active continuously due to the heat and the friction in my legs, but I do try my best,” she said, adding that she hasn’t thought about competing as a para-athlete.
‘A true inspiration’
“She is hard working. A true inspiration for me and the rest of the team. Some people believe that their life has no meaning after amputation. But Miki has managed to find her true identity in the face of challenge and turmoil,” Angombe, who also trains the likes of former world champion Paulus ‘The Hitman’ Moses, Sakaria ‘Desert Storm’ Lukas and Flame Nangolo, said.
“The one thing I remember her saying all the time is ‘I will try’. She never expects special treatment or attention. She has a positive spirit and I can proudly say that I’m grateful that she has given me the opportunity to train her.”
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