BY NOMPUMELELO SITHOLE
A 40 year old middle runner from Durban, who has travelled the world says it is time to settle down in her home town. The Professional Athlete, Journalist, LGBT activist and Feather Award winner Hlengiwe Buthelezi have travelled the world, won numerous medals and awards as an international runner on Gay Games and launched Afro Games. She told Uniq Magazine that she wants to settle down in her Province, KwaZulu Natal empowering other athletes regardless of their gender neither sexuality.
“From a very young age I loved working with people although sometimes I had to hide my sexuality because I was afraid of getting fired but at some stage I couldn’t do it anymore I wanted to be free and live my life the way I wanted to. While I was living my life enjoying being a sportsperson, it crossed my mind that at some point I have to retire from competing and give back to my community by encouraging everyone in my community to engage in sports. This will also boost me as I will continue running for the love of sports and for health reasons” says Buthelezi
She further said settling back home will not only give her a chance to establish an Athlete Club for everyone who love sports not just gay people only. But it will also allow her to spend precious time with her two favourite and phenomenal women in her life.
“Most of the times I wonder how my life would have turned out if it wasn’t for these two amazing people in my life. My mother who also served as a father to me played a huge role in grooming me up. Growing up in a big family, I was an energetic child and my Grandfather’s favourite. I am able to overcome challenges in life because of her unconditional tough love. I also thank God for my lovely fiancé Nompilo Ntuli who supported me for 10 years, helping me balance my career and my family life pertaining my sexual orientation. She stood by my side through all the ups and downs as my pillar of strength.” says Buthelezi
Buthelezi has travelled the world and participated in many top international games including Australia (2002), Chicago (2010), Germany (2014) and Paris (2018) for the Gay Games which she describe it was a unique trip from the previous ones. In 2018 she won feather award as a sport personality of the year and was elected into the board of directors of Federation of Gay Games (FGG), in Paris.
“I am the first South African and African in the history of Gay Games to be a board member. I started running professionally back in 1999 and wore South African Colours in 2002”. When I started running for the Gay Games I was overwhelmed because it was my first international trip, seeing gay people running freely without being judged was fascinating”
In between being an athlete she studied video Technology at Durban University of Technology (DUT) and worked as a Cameraman at the SABC in the entertainment shows like Friends like these and informative show 3 talk with Noelene from 1997-2007 and other DSTV big channels.