Situ was born in Matatile, Eastern Cape in 1971. She became paralysed
in 1982 at the tender age of 12, from her fourth vertebra down after her spinal chord contracted a suspected TB
infection. She was encouraged to take up javelin by her
teacher in Umtata. Coming into the Paralympics, Situ had
already set a new national record, having thrown a
distance of 14,69m in Pretoria in March 2000.
In October 2000 Situ became the first black athlete to
win a Paralympic gold medal - an accomplishment equal to
that of Josiah Thugwane, who became South Africa's first
black Olympic champion after winning the marathon in
Atlanta in 1996. She bettered the previous Paralympic
record by more than three metres, throwing 14.78m, to
erase the previous best of 11.50m. At the same
tournament she also added the discus silver to her
Situ has been throwing the javelin since 1988. She said
she had been intimidated by the 50 000-strong crowd at
Stadium Australia and wanted to throw in the towel. “I
just wanted to go home. But once I had my first throw
and saw that it went over the yellow line for the world
record, I felt much better."
Situ, who is the world champion, was in a class of her
own, her effort accumulating 1287 points according to
her T54 classification, beating Czech Martina Kniezkova
whose 9,03m collected 1064 points for silver. Kniezkova
is classified T53, which means that her disability is
slightly worse than the South African's. Dora Elia
Garcia of Mexico won the bronze with 12,48m as a T54
classified athlete that earned her 1047 points.
Of her ailment, she said she just started feeling weak
one day and then shortly afterwards couldn’t walk
anymore. She loves gospel music and spends most of her
free time sewing at an Umtata rehabilitation centre.
She was a recipient of the National Order of Ikhamanga
Award for Outstanding Achievement in 2003.