Bouwer wins as SA medal tally jumps

2 September 2012

Charl Bouwer led the way for Team South Africa at the London Paralympic Games on Saturday, winning gold in the swimming pool as the team took its medals tally from two to eight.

Bouwer, who had won gold in the 400m freestyle S13 class at the 2008 Paralympics, showed that he has not only endurance but speed too as he raced to victory in the 50m freestyle in an African record of 23.99 seconds.

Belarussian Ihar Boki, who had beaten Bouwer on his way to a Paralympic record win in the 100m butterfly the previous day, placed second, with Russia’s Oleksii Fedyna in third.

African record and bronze

Achmat Hassiem, who lost a leg in a Shark attack, claimed a bronze medal in the men’s 100m butterfly S10 class. He touched in an African record of 57.76 seconds and afterwards dedicated his medal to his family and friends.

Natalie du Toit contested the final of the 100m breaststroke SB8 class and finished well out of the running, in seventh place, in a time of 1:30.85, which was over 13 seconds behind the winner, Olesya Vladykina of Russia.

Hendri Herbst, who claimed a bronze medal in the 100m freestyle in the S11 class on Friday, was seventh in the 50m final in a time of 27.57 seconds. He had earlier set an African record time of 27.02 seconds in the heats.

World records

There was excitement on the track as Oscar Pistorius and Arnu Fourie set world records, but both marks were set in the heats, so no medals were on the line.

Running in the T43/44 class, Pistorius set a T43 record of 21.30 seconds, while Fourie clocked 22.57 for a new record in the T44 classification.

Pistorius, who made the semi-finals of the 400 metres at the Olympics on the same track, told journalists afterwards: “I couldn’t have hoped for a better return here. I didn’t expect to run a time like this tonight.”

Apart from the new world records, there were also a number of medal winning performances from South African athletes on the track.

Teboho Mokgalagadi captured a silver in the 100 metres in the T35 cerebral palsy class, edging out Xinhan Fu of China for the bronze by just two-hundredths-of-a-second in a time of 13.10. Victory went to the Ukranian Iurii Tasruk in 12.62 seconds.

One of each

Mokgaladadi previously won 100m gold in Athens and a bronze in Beijing and so completed the 100m set in London.

Dyan Buis added another silver medal to the South African medal tally in the 100m T38 class. Victory went to Australia’s Evan O’Hanlon in a world record 10.79 seconds, with Buis, in second place, setting a regional record of 11.11.

While Ireland’s Jason Smyth captured the headlines and a gold medal with a world record run of 10.46 in the 100m T13 class for the visually impaired, South Africa’s Jonathan Ntutu just missed out on a silver medal but won bronze in 11.03 seconds, a mere hundredth-of-a-second behind Cuba’s Luis Felipe Gutierrez.

The only South African woman in action on Saturday, Anrune Liebenberg, made her mark by setting an African record of 25.55 seconds in the final of the T46 200 metres. That effort was good for bronze behind Cuba’s Yunidis Castillo, who won in a world record 24.45 seconds, and Poland’s Alicja Fiodorow, who took second in a regional record of 25.49.

Wheelchair tennis

World number 10, Kgothatso Montjane, defeated Spain’s Lola Ochoa Ribes 7-5, 6-2 in the women’s wheelchair tennis competition.

In the men’s competition, Evans Maripa cruised to a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Mohammed Hamdan, but Sydwell Mathonsi, ranked 37th in the world, went down in three sets to world number 18, Stephen Welch.

The men’s wheelchair basketball team suffered its second big defeat, going down 91-29 to the USA after previously losing 93-39 to defending champions, Australia. They were also beaten 74-50 by Spain.

In the Velodrome, Roxanne Burns, competing in the women’s C4-5 500m time trial, placed 11th in a time of 42.621.

Medal table

With two gold, two silver and four bronze medals, South Africa moved up from 19th to 16th place on the medal table after Saturday’s competition.

China remains out front, with 20 gold, 15 silver and 21 bronze medals for a total of 56.

Australia (11, 5, 13, 29) is steady in second place and the hosts Great Britain (9, 16, 11, 36) have the second highest number of medals and are up two places to third in the standings.

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