About Arnu Fourie
Arnu Fourie was just 18 years old when his dreams of playing rugby with South Africa’s famous Golden Lions were shattered in a devastating accident. It took some years to rebuild his life and sporting ambitions, but by 2008 his faith and determination took him all the way to the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games. Now a proud member of Team Össur, Arnu is a promising sprinter with plans aplenty.
It was the beginning of a whole new life for me, but I was not yet ready for it.
A passion for rugby
At the start of 2003, Arnu Fourie was gearing up to represent Grey College, Bloemfontein, as part of the first rugby side at the St John’s rugby festival in Johannesburg. A week before the event, he tore his anterior cruciate ligament in a warm-up game. Hugely disappointed, he underwent surgery and was left on the sideline for the remainder of the season, unable to play a single game for the team he had dreamt about for years.
While rehabilitation continued, Arnu was signed up by the Golden Lions Rugby Union in preparation for a rugby career which would kick off in 2004. But in October 2003, tragedy struck again. Arnu’s left leg was caught by a propeller in a boating accident, an injury which left doctors no option but to amputate below the knee.
“On the way to the hospital, these rugby thoughts were all making their way out of my life,” said Arnu. “Then, the next morning when I woke up, the first thing someone said to me was ‘The Paralympic record for the 100m is 11.06’. I just wasn’t interested…it was like a whole bucket of cold water had been poured over me.”
The road to recovery
For quite some time the very idea of competitive disability sports filled Arnu with a kind of revulsion. “I did not want to hear anything about it,” he explained. “People came to visit me in hospital and wanted to show me their stumps and prostheses; I would just look away and ask them to leave. It was the beginning of a whole new life for me, but I was not yet ready for it.”
The first turning point was when a friend, one of the school’s star rugby players, died in a motorcycle accident. Standing in front of the hospital praying for that friend, Arnu realized it could have been him, that his own accident could have been more serious. For the first time he felt he still had so much to live for, so much still to do, and so many people still to love.
Moving on he began studying at Stellenbosch. Still struggling to come to terms with things and the everyday practical issues of limb loss, Arnu insisted on wearing long jeans, no matter what the temperature. He competed in his first disabled sports event, the SA Disabled Golf Open. “I won my division, but didn’t enjoy any part of competing with disabled people. They were talking so easily about what had happened to them and would make jokes about it. But I wasn’t ready yet for all of this. I had not made peace with what happened to me.”
A new conviction
With incredible support from his family and girlfriend and a growing faith, Arnu began to turn his life around. A new and positive outlook was reflected even in his clothes. “I began to wear shorts and, for the first time in the three years, I felt that I was happy with who I am.”
In September 2006, Arnu ran his first 100m race as a disabled athlete – he says it felt more like 400m. After months of hard work and perseverance, he qualified for his country’s Paralympic squad, going on to Beijing where he completed the 100m and 200m races. Today Arnu continues to train hard, improving all the time and living life to the full. Team Össur is honored to have you on board Arnu!
Team Össur is an accomplished group of elite international athletes and sporting role models. People like world class sprinter and multiple marathon runner Richard Whitehead, word record holder Arnu Fourie, triathlete Sarah Reinertsen, and accomplished track and field athlete April Holmes.
Importantly, the talents and charisma of all of these exceptional individuals are helping to raise public awareness of the true potential of people with limb loss and impaired mobility to lead active and fulfilling lives.
Össur is delighted to recognize their work and to sponsor and support them in the constant pursuit of Life Without Limitations. At a local level, the Company also partners with a variety of large and small organizations, helping to support the industry, educate practitioners and encourage people to reach their full potential.