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Catching up with our Olympians: Alani Ferreira

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Alani Ferreira, teenage champion and matric student has just recently made waves when she qualified for the Rio Paralympics in not only one event but 4! She is a young athlete with such joie de vivre and yet with such a strong and deep seated determination to make a success of all that she touches no matter what it will cost. She is also a brilliant talented music composer and determined to graduate as Class of 2016 for her Matric, despite her overpowering Olympic preparation commitments.  She has a heart for people wanting to give back to community. She says about herself “I would like to be considered as a fun, funny and bubbly person who can be trusted. I would like to be an inspiration one day that small setbacks can be overcome as long as you believe and try your best”.



Athlete: Bio / Stats

Name & Surname Alani Ferreira
Nick Name Lani
Date of birth 19 July 1998
Place of birth Pretoria
Current City Pietermaritzburg
Height 167cm
Weight 63kg
Shoe Size 7
Club Seals swimming club
Coach’s Name Wayne Riddin
Out of Country events Jimi flowers classic(2015),
Favorite City Anywhere with a beach
Favorite Song/ type of music I like all types of music as long as they have some meaning to me
Favorite Movie I don’t really watch movies but I love the series Friends
Tertiary Inst Name/ Year Epworth High School, Matric
Sponsors None at the moment
 Instagram  Instagram: Alani.ferreira
Community projects involved in Epworth outreach opportunities
Parents Names, siblings Danie and Marina Ferreira

One brother: Daniel

Dog: Steffi



Q: Firstly congrats on qualifying for Rio Olympics with such a blast wow, 4 A qualifying times! . What is on your heart and mind right now concerning this qualification?

It actually still hasn’t hit me yet. The first one was a wow with my 200m IM but if somebody told me that I was going to swim 4 A qualifying times, I would’ve simply laughed at them.

It definitely has motivated me because knowing that I could do those times on the small amount of training I did because of my shoulder injury gives me hope and determination to do even better.

Q: You are one of SA’s top youth athletes, passionate and doing so well in your Swimming tell me a little bit about how you started in swimming and your journey in the swimming arena up to now?

I started swimming when I was a little tot about 14 years ago and it wasn’t my favorite thing to say the least. I swam able bodies until I was about 10 years old and then dropped it for hockey and tennis.A few weeks after I stopped I had to swim a relay because one of the other girls got injured so Wayne gave me a suit to use for the race. I swam the race and later that week I took the suit back to him but he told me to keep it. I told him no, because I’m not going to use it again. He said, “Are you sure you are not going to swim again?”, and I very determinedly said yes. After I was diagnosed when I was 12 I got to told to start swimming so I thought I would give it a try again. I wasn’t very open to disabled swimming simply because it wasn’t something I wasn’t use to and I didn’t regard myself as disabled. I did my first gala as disabled at SA Games in Limpopo and had my first drug testing experience because I won 8 gold medals. That was when it all really started for me. From then I’ve just been training when I can get to the pool.


Q: Why do you have such deep seated respect for your coach?

There were times when I thought what in the world is he saying…and how am I meant to drop 6 seconds in one week. But ever y time what he has said to me has happened, so I have no reason not to trust him. He got me where I am today and was a swimmer himself so he knows exactly what we go through and knows where our weaknesses are. He doesn’t do his coaching for himself, but for the swimmers who he wants to help that is why I have so much respect for him.

Q: What happens to school this year with such a hectic swimming schedule and possible Olympic trip pending?

School has not been easy for me for the past 6 months but I am determined to finish my matric this year.  I started as the class of 2016 and that is what I will be. I will just have to make many, MANY sacrifices but it will all be worth it in the end

Q: Would you like to share a little bit more about your faith journey and how it has affected your life / sports?

I’ve been exposed to faith from a very young age and still remember being a little ‘kabouter’ at my ‘Sondag skool’ class. It has always made an impact on me and it has gotten me though many hard times. My favorite thing to do when I felt lost is to go to a worship rally and just be around people who are seeking to be on the same journey as you.

Q: What do you do to relax?

I either do exercise to reduce stress or get rid of my extra frustrations so I will often just say ‘Im going for a jog’ or I would sit behind the piano and just compose pieces and play for ages.

Q: What is your personal favourite motivational quote?

It’s now or never’. This quote was in my head before every race I swam at SA national Olympic trials this year.


Q: You have been diagnosed with an eye disease, do you want to share a little?

I was born with a genetic mutation, Stargardt macular dystrophy, which causes me to gradually lose my central vision and eventually my colour vision too. I only got diagnosed at the age of 12 when it started effecting my tennis and piano because my teachers realized there was something wrong. From 2015 to 2016 my sight has gone backwards a lot but I cannot remember how I use to see when I had ‘perfect vision’ so I do not really know what I am meant to be seeing like. The only big problem I find is seeing people’s faces.

Q: What is your definition of greatness?

For me it is perfection. I am a perfectionist so I strive for perfection in everything I do but everyone has their own definition of perfect so I feel it is applicable to anyone who wants to strive to be the perfect version of themself.

Q: What’s your WHY ?  

I have always asked myself why do we go back to training every single day if we know it is going to hurt and make us tired. It is actually quite simple. Because I love what I do and pushing myself to the absolute max. My favorite part of swimming is without a doubt the rush and the focus you get when you are standing behind that block, it is just you and the water and you have a chance because nothing is guaranteed. That is why I swim.

I would like to be an example to the younger swimmers and to help guide them to eventually reach the top. When I was younger I had people help and guide me so I wish to do the same so that instead of stressing before a race they can focus, get in the right mindset and go race.

I would like to show them that if you believe you can achieve because it is 80% mind, 20% body.

Q: One thing about you that the world does not know J

I compose my own piano pieces and love to play jazz saxophone

Q: Anything else you would like to share?

I have learnt that if you want to be successful sportswoman you are going to have to make sacrifices. I gave up my Matric dance to go and get my classifications done in Rio but I am sure it will be worth it in the end.

Thank you so much for taking this interview. We would like to wish you all the best for your journey ahead. We look forward to following you as you go from strength to strength. Blessings!

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