SA Paralympians star at WC

14 May 2007

South African swimmer Natalie du Toit and athletes Oscar Pistorius and Teboho Mokgalagadi won seven gold medals between them at the 2007 Paralympic World Cup which concluded in Manchester on Sunday.

Du Toit set the winning streak in motion by dominating in the swimming pool at the same venue where she earned the first David Dixon award for the Outstanding Athlete of the Games at the Commonwealth Games in 2002.

She claimed three victories, in the multi-disability (MD) 100 metres freestyle, the S9 100 metres freestyle, and the MD 50 metres freestyle.

Aiming for Beijing 2008
A winner of five gold medals at the Athens Paralympics in 2004, and six gold medals at the IPC Swimming World Championships in Durban last year, Du Toit is hoping to swim at the Olympic in Beijing in 2008 against able-bodied athletes.

Unusually for her, she wasn’t able to break any of the world records behind her name, but her medals were the usual colour of gold.

She won the MD 100 freestyle in 1:01.21 from the USA’s Jessica Long. She was slightly slower in the S9 freestyle, clocking 1:01.73. In the all-out sprint of the MD 50 freestyle, she touched the wall in 29.14 seconds.

South Africa picked up another medal in the pool when Shireen Shapiro claimed the bronze medal in the women’s S10 100 metres breaststroke.

Track action
On the track, Pistorius, whose sporting motto is “you’re not disabled by the disabilities you have, you are abled by the abilities you have,” competed in the T44 category and won with ease, although wet conditions hampered his times.

He claimed the 100 metres title in a competition record 11.64 seconds, which was far outside the scintillating 10.91 seconds he ran at the Nedbank Championships for the Physically Disabled in Johannesburg to become the first amputee to crack the 11-second barrier.

Before that, he also won the 200 metres in 23.17 seconds. Again, the time was well outside his personal best of 21.34, but more than good enough to secure victory.

Sprint double
Mokogalagadi competed in the T35 category and, like Pistorius, also completed the sprint double.

Emulating Pistorius, he set a competition record in the 100 metres, recording a time of 13.44 seconds. He took victory in the 200 metres in 28.26.

South Africa narrowly missed out on another medal when Jon Fred de Koker finished fourth in the 200 metres in the T42 category. It was a marked improvement on his finish in the 100 metres in which he collected seventh place.

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