SA’s EAD athletes shine at Games

27 March 2006

South Africa’s elite athletes with a disability (EAD) showed up well in Melbourne, winning a number of Commonwealth Games medals, with swimmer Natalie du Toit leading the way.

Du Toit, as she did in Manchester four years ago, shone in the pool, winning both the 50 metres and 100 metres freestyle.

She claimed the 50 metres title in a world record 29.27 seconds, breaking her own mark, and won the 100 metres in 1:01.81.

Du Toit says her aim remains to compete as an able-bodied athlete at the Beijing Olympics in 2008. In the past year she has taken eight seconds off her time in the 800 metres freestyle, but reckons she still needs to improve by another 20 seconds.

Winning Commonwealth gold rated highly with Du Toit: “Unbelievable!” she said.

“Every swimmer tries to do their best. For me it is more than just that. My medal is also that of South Africa and the Commonwealth Games team. If I can help with one medal to make South Africa do better at the Games, I’ll be proud.”

In athletics, South Africa landed a couple more medals. Hilton Langenhoven captured silver in the men’s 100 metres EAD T12 final, running a time of 11.22. The winner and world record holder, Adenkule Adesoji of Nigeria, was clocked in 11.07.

In the men’s 200 metres EAD T37 final, David Roos also won a silver medal. Australia’s Heath Francis won the event in 22.96, with Roos finishing in 23.12.

‘Doing the Jonty Rhodes thing’
Speaking afterwards, Roos admitted he thought of diving for the finish line – “doing the Jonty Rhodes thing” – but then thought better of it.

South Africans Dominique Vogel and Thuliswa Mlinganiso finished sixth and seventh respectively in the women’s 100 metres EAD T37 final.

Ricardo Fitzpatrick placed fourteenth and Evgeni Popov sixteenth in the powerlifting event.