Kimberley’s Charl Bouwer had the statisticians burning the midnight oil, after smashing the 200 metres backstroke world record in the evening session of the Nedbank Championships for the Physically Disabled, presented by the SA Sports Association for Physically Disabled, at the Gelvandale swimming pool in Port Elizabeth on Monday night.
Bouwer, who competes in the visually impaired S13 classification, has attracted much attention since his world record-breaking feat in the final of the 400 metres freestyle at the Beijing Olympics and his championship campaign has been no different.
His evening effort of 2 min 20.77 secs in the 200 metres backstroke eclipsed the previous world best held by Greek swimmer Charalampos Taiganidis (2:21.47), having earlier won the 800 metres freestyle in a world record-smashing 9:01.33. The previous mark of 9:29.21 was held by Germany’s Robert Dorries.
Shireen Sapiro, Paralympic gold medalist in the 100 metres backstroke (S10 minimal disability, provided the fourth world record of the day in clocking 2;36.06 in the 200 metres backstroke final, assigning the previous mark of 2;36.56 clocked by Britain’s Sarah Bailey, off the top of the list in the record-books.
Earlier, Port Elizabeth-based Kevin Paul powered his way to a new world record in the 200 metres breaststroke in the SB9 classification in 2:30.89.
Born without his left pectoral muscle and a smaller left hand and shorter left arm, Paul once again proved his class, in front of an enthusiastic crowd, eclipsing the previous world best of 2;40.68 set by Australian Rick Pendleton.
Records also tumbled at the power-lifting, where Northern Cape’s Johannes Matthysen claimed gold in the 67.5kg bench press competition before ending on a SA best of 137.5kg.
Over 800 physically disabled and visually impaired athletes from 12 regional associations are striving for glory at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University on the athletics, swimming, archery, football, goalball, boccia and powerlifting fronts.