By Mark Etheridge
Rio Paralympics athlete Louzanne Coetzee has dashed her way to another South African track record.
The blind Bloemfontein blitz blasted to a personal best 800-metre time of 2min 30.78sec at the World Para-Athletics Grand Prix meeting in Nottwil, Switzerland.
Before Friday’s run, Coetzee’s best for the two-lapper was 2:31.22. She already holds the world record in the 5000m for her class.
‘I wanted to start faster though, and a little more aggressively, but things didn’t go to plan… I tried my best, but sometimes that happens to me in the 800. Maybe I don’t have that much confidence in the 800m at this stage.
‘So I would have liked to have gone quicker, but one always has to be happy with a personal best. I think I’m more confident in my other races, the 1500 [Saturday] and then the 5000m on Monday.’
Coach Rufus Botha was happy though. ‘Any PB is great. It shows improvement. And that predicts some good times in the future, as the 800m is really an event we use only as a barometer for speed improvement and lactate acid tolerance improvement.
‘I believe Louzanne could have dipped under 2:30, but she and Khothatso Mokone [her guide] went out too conservatively the first 150m and had to play catch-up to break the 2:30 barrier.
‘But it was close enough and still her best. To me this predicts good times at World Champs (if selected) in London later this year. This is what we’re aiming for – to be at her best at Worlds in the 1500m in London.’
Her personal and SA record has moved Coetzee up to third in the world in the 800m.
The meeting featured athletes from 48 countries in the paraplegic-friendly venue. The town has a huge high-performance centre for paraplegic athletes around Europe.
Saturday’s 1500m should see Coetzee going under 5min and close to 4min 57sec if conditions are good, while Monday could see another attempt at her own 18:37.23 world mark.