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Rio Paralympian Gouws runs her way to four golds at nationals

Gouws

By Mark Etheridge

She may have returned from the Rio Paralympics empty-handed in terms of medals, but teenager Liezel Gouws picked up heaps of precious experience.

And it showed in this weekend’s Nedbank Championships for the Physically Disabled in Port Elizabeth.

Competing in the T37 (cerebral palsy) classification, the Klerkdorp resident dominated the division with a haul of four gold medals.

She won the 100, 200, 400 and 800-metre events, the last coming in world-recrod time, an enormous confidence booster a year after undergoing foot surgery.

‘My times weren’t all personal bests, just the 800m, but I’m still very happy with them, because I ran IPC World Championships qualifying times in all of them,’ she enthused.

‘The 2min 40.39sec in the 800m was a personal best by two seconds, and the 200m (30.50) was also an improvement from last year.’

Her times for the 100 and 400 were 15.06 and 1:09.81 respectively.

Asked if she felt stronger than at last year’s Paralympics, she said: ‘My head is definitely stronger because I know what awaits me at worlds in London this year. Physically? I’d say probably about the same as in Rio, and I know I definitely have lots of hard work to do if I want to medal.

‘I’m probably going to run at the SA Open meetings in Potchefstroom or Bloemfontein to try and improve on my times, and then hopefully Worlds will be after that.’

She’s had a busy start to the year. ‘It’s my matric year and I’m deputy head girl at my school, Wesvalia Hoërskool, so it’s been pretty hectic. I also run for my school against able-bodied scholars, so ran things like inter-schools etc.

‘But for now I’ll just see what God’s plans are for me.’


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