By Mark Etheridge
It was medals galore for Team South Africa on Thursday, as another four rained down in Rio on their best day of the 2016 Paralympics.
Two golds, a silver and bronze joined the nine medals already harvested by the team and taking their tally to 13 with three days of competition to come.
After Ernst van Dyk (H5 hand cycle road race) and Reinhardt Hamman (F38 javelin) had won gold in the afternoon, the evening’s track and field events saw Ndodomzi ‘Jonathan’ Ntutu sprint to silver in the T12 100-metres and Dyan Buis bounded to bronze in the T38 long jump.
Ntutu ran 11.09 seconds for a season’s best time and Buis brought bronze back to the Athletes’ Village with a best of 6.58 metres on the night.
Beating Ntutu to gold was Cuba’s Leinier Savon Pineda in a time of 10.97.
‘Actually I still feel I could have done a bit better, so maybe slightly disappointed but hey, it’s always a pleasure to get a medal for my country,’ was Ntutu’s initial reaction after the race.
‘I obviously planned to peak here but my start… it was the worst I’ve had for a while.
‘This was a much more difficult class than in 2012 so I guess getting a silver here is still a good experience. Now I’ve still got the 200m heats, semis and hopefully a final coming up. I think I’m one of the last South Africans competing at the Games, so no holiday for me.’
As for Buis, he had to face a twin-pronged podium threat from Chinese duo Jianwen Hu and Huangho Zhong who took gold and silver in 6.64 and 6.59m respectively.
That meant that, much like fellow long jumper Luvo Manyonga at last month’s Olympics, just a centimetre separated him from higher honours.
‘After the other night when I was so close in the 100m but just missed a medal, tonight I was very happy and really enjoyed the competition. Like I always do, I came out and every jump I just did it for God,’ said the Stellenbosch based athlete.
‘I actually thought the gold medal was even in reach .. but still, I’m so happy with the PB as well – and on my last jump.
‘I really went for it and gave it my all because everything was so close but it was good to have buried those 100m memories and being able to just focus on the long jump tonight.’
Despite the further two medals by Ntutu and Buis South Africa still slipped one position in the medals table after the Van Dyk/Hamman double gold had moved them from 27th to 19th. They’ll start Friday’s action in 20th spot.
In other finals involving South Africans, teenager Ntando Mahlungu ended fifth in the T42 100m final (12.57) while London Paralympian Chenelle van Zyl took fourth spot in the F34 shot put with a best heave of 8.49m on the night.
Also on the track, like Hilton Langenhoven in the T12 400m semi-final earlier in the Games there was heartache for blind runner Louzanne Coetzee as she was also disqualified.
She was running in the T11 heats with guide Khothatso Mokone at her side, she ended third but was disqualified under IPC rule 7.10 which states that the ‘guide runner must not push or pull or otherwise propel athlete’.
There’ll be heart-ache for both runner and guide right now but at just 23 years of age, there’s lots more to come for Coetzee.
Heats action saw Charl du Toit (T37) go through to the final of the 400m with a time of 55.28 while Anruné Liebenberg’s season’s best of 26.63 in the T47 200m also saw her booking a place in the final.
In the only swimming involving South Africans Hendri Herbst took fourth spot in the S11 100m freestyle final with a time of 59.71.
Apart from Van Dyk’s gold out on the road, hand-cyclist Justine Asher took 12th in a time of 1:37.36 in a tough combined H2-4 class.
Picture of Buis and Coetzee in action on Thursday, courtesy of Wessel Oosthuizen/SASPA
Moving on to Friday and Team SA have representation in four different codes, namely aquatics, athletics, cycling and equestrian.
Here’s a list with codes, names and time of competition (SA time)
3pm Emily Gray – 100m Backstroke S9
3.07pm Dyan Buis 400m T38
11.46pm Ndodomzi Ntutu 200m T12
11.57pm Hilton Langehoven 200m T12
3.23pm Charl du Toit 400m T37
4.27pm Anrune Liebenberg 200m T47
2.30pm Craig Ridgard – Men’s road race C1-3
6pm Goldy Fuchs – Men’s road race T1-2
2pm – Phillipa Johnson Individual Freestyle Test (Dressage)