By Mark Etheridge
Charl du Toit and Fanie van der Merwe banked Team South Africa’s third and fourth medals of the Paralympic Games in Rio on Sunday as they ran to first and third place respectively in the T37 100-metre track final.
And 10 minutes after their gold-bronze sprint final it was Stellenbosch training partner Ilse Hayes who scorched to silver in the women’s T13 100m final to make it five for SA in this Games campaign.
The extra trio of medals bumped Team SA up to 16th on the medals table.
Du Toit, who broke the world record in the semi-finals with a barnstorming 11.42sec, came from behind in front of a crowd of 30,000, to take gold from Egypt’s Mostafa Mohamed in 11.45sec. He kept his cool to run a beautifully controlled race, overtaking his continental counterpart with around 25m to run and showing the world his customary smile.
‘I didn’t get the best of starts, the Egyptian guy was flying – hats off to him.
‘But I kept my control and at about 70m I knew I was in the mix. I had to really work for this one.’
Explaining the smile he said: ‘I just really enjoy athletics and just love doing this. the big smile was for my late uncle [killed in a home robbery recently], my training group, coach Suzanne Ferreira, my conditioning coach Sean Surmon and I also had my parents here which was amazing.’
Van der Merwe, the 2012 Paralympic champion in this event finished strongly to be credited with the same time as Mohamed in what will be his final Paralympics.
As for Hayes, she rocketed out of the blocks faster than anyone apart from American Kym Crosby but her nemesis of late, Ukraine’s Leilia Adzhametova hunted her down and passed about three-quarters into the race to set a new world record of 11.79sec.
Hayes’ time was non too shabby either as she clocked a season’s best 11.91 with Crosby third in 12.24.
Of the eight finishers there was one world record, one season’s best and three personal bests, testimony to the lightning quick nature of the track.
Out on Estadio Lagoa, the rowing crowd were in action in the LTA Mix4+ final and pulled their way to a brave fifth-placed finish.
They clocked 3min 28.39sec for the 1000m course as Great Britain, USA and Canada won gold, silver and bronze respectively.
Winning time for Great Britain was 3:17.17 as they won gold by more than two seconds and were outside Germany’s Paralympic record of 3:15.91 set four years ago in London. But, coxed by Willie Morgan, Shannon Murray, Lucy Perold, Dylan Trollope and Dieter Roslee can still hold their heads high. Trollope turned 19 on Saturday and would no doubt have loved a medal to celebrate with… but it was not to be.
Earlier Sandra Khumalo had ended fourth in the B Final of the ASW1X Single Skulls.
Competing at her second Paralympics, she stormed her way to a time of 5min 58.770sec for the 1000m.
Going through 250 in 1:23.930, halfway in 2:53.500 and the three-quarter mark in 4:24.760, she was third but overtaken by the Italian boat in the final stages.
In the pool, teenager Alani Ferreira ended seventh in heat two of the SB13 100m breaststroke. She clocked 1:27.52 which ranked her 13th of 15 competitors as the slowest qualifier for the final went 1:21.74.
Next to go was Kevin Paul, winner of SA’s first gold at these Paralympics on Thursday (SB9 breaststroke). Sunday saw him in S10 200m Individual Medley action. In Heat Two, he ended fourth in 2:15.09, as Denys Dubrov, the man he beat into silver on Thursday wooing 2:09.23.
But it was still good enough to get him through to the eight-man final with only 11 swimmers starting this event.
In the women’s powerlifting event Chantell Stierman ended sixth of seven competitors in the -61kg division. The Kimberley lifter, who was part of Team SA at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, two years ago had a best of 80kg on the day as Nigeria’s Lucky Ejike set a Paralympic and world record of 142kg.