Reinard Schuhknecht didn’t allow the amputation of his right arm to deter him from reaching his goals and realising his dreams. Fate dealt him a heavy blow at a young age but after being knocked down it didn’t take long for Reinard to get back up – head held high and determined to show the world that he still had plenty to offer.
He is a shining example of true grit and an iron will to succeed despite terrible adversity. Leisure Boating spoke to Reinard to get the full story behind the one-armed wakeboarder that made waves and turned heads at the recent Pro Wakeboarding Tour Stop Three.
Q: Reinard, tell us a bit about yourself and, if you don’t mind recounting it, how exactly the accident occurred that claimed your arm?
RS: I am 21 years old and was born and bred in Vanderbijlpark, Gauteng. On 28 Sept 2006 at the age of 14 I visited a friend on a small farm here in Vanderbijlpark. We went swimming and, as boys do, we climbed onto the roof to jump into the pool from there. I can’t remember what happened but I must’ve strayed too close to the high voltage wires that were running next to the roof and I was electrocuted by 11000volts.
The electric current went in at my right hand (and burned it completely) and exited my body through my feet, leaving deep wounds and popping my toes like popcorn! I was unconscious and airlifted to Garden City Clinic. After three weeks in ICU I was moved to High Care and only then realised that they had amputated my right arm above my elbow.
Q: It must have been incredibly traumatic for you and your family. How did it affect your school and sport career growing up and what motivated you during this tough time?
RS: I cannot describe the trauma my family had to go through. My elder brother started his Grade 12 exams three days after my accident and I think it must’ve been tough for him. My father and mother stayed at a guest house across from the hospital for the entire three weeks that I was in ICU. It was very traumatic for them because I had to go to theatre every second evening to remove dead flesh from my wounds.
Then, after two weeks in high care I had to go to the rehabilitation hospital for a month. As I was right-handed I had to learn to write with my left hand and how to do “simple” everyday tasks like brushing my teeth, etc. I am still writing slower than I used to but my mom says she can actually read my handwriting now!
I wrote my grade 12 exams in 2010 and passed well. I played rugby and did cycling before my accident but realised in hospital that these were dreams that I would have to give up. All my friends and family who visited me in hospital and my faith in God motivated me to see the new opportunities that lay ahead of me.
Q: Respect! Now, tell us, are you an avid boater? – And where did your love for boats originate?
RS: Since my childhood I loved everything that had to do with water – swimming, skiing (I was three years old when I started skiing). We as a family loved boating, sailing and all water sport but after my accident my father sold our boat. However, in 2010 I bought my own boat – a Sensation 21 Wakeboard Edition! I love every minute in and on the water…