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Golden boy Paul picks up Team South Africa’s opening medal in Rio 2016

By Mark Etheridge

Team South Africa’s Paralympic medal chase is off to a golden start after swimmer Kevin Paul powered his way to breaststroke gold in Rio de Janeiro on Thursday night.
Paul, 25, won the SB9 100-metre event in 1min 04.86sec to win his second Paralympic gold medal after doing the same in Beijing eight years ago.
In London four years ago, Paul had to settle for silver in his keynote event.
Paul, formerly of Port Elizabeth but now training in Pinetown, KwaZulu-Natal with national swimming coach Graham Hill, got off to a great start.
But at the halfway mark he was lying second and Ukraine swimmer Denys Dubrov looked to have stolen a march on the South African. But Paul is noted for his strong finish and that came to the fore as he got up to edge Dubrov into silver (1.05.10).
Earlier Paul had dominated his heat, winning in 1:06.19 to book his place in the final.
’It wasn’t my personal best but tonight was never about time, it was about getting into that pool and getting to the 100m first. I can jump into the pool next week and swim a faster time but it’s not going to get me a Paralympic gold,’ said Paul after getting gold.
‘My coach and I discussed this beforehand and it was about going out comfortably and steady.’
‘Looking back at Beijing and getting on to those blocks as a 17-year-old and getting away with a gold I don’t think I really knew what it meant but now I truly appreciate it now and also how much work goes into it.’
Referring to his training group, Paul said: ‘It’s such a competitive group and you get there at 5am and just see everyone there with the same goal as you. It wasn’t just me in the pool tonight, it was the whole squad, coach and family etc.’
Paul can now take a bit of a breather before his 200 Individual Medley later in the Games.
In other swimming action teenager Alani Ferreira started what could be a long and successful Paralympic career as she competed in the S13 100m butterfly.
She ended sixth in 1:24.23, more than 17sec off the pace but the Epworth High School (Pietermaritzburg) schoolgirl can be excused her share of debutant nerves.
Although she failed to progress to the final, she was still over the moon, if a little shell-shocked.
‘Wow wow wow wow wow….what an experience! It hit me on my way to the call room that I was at the Paralympics.
‘I felt ready to go for it but when I got behind the block my legs did not agree, they went numb, and nerves and the shock hit me like a brick wall. I hit a blank and went out way too fast but I can surely say I tried my best.
‘And despite all my first time race effects I still swam an S13 100m fly African record and have had the experience of a life time swimming my first ‘big race’ which I will never forget.
‘Now its time to focus on the next one, and really push myself to the limit. This is definitely the beginning of something new.’
Ferreira certainly has something to look forward to as she qualified in no fewer than four events for Rio at the nationals in Durban earlier this year.
In track action it was Hilton Langenhoven in T12 400m semi-final action and there was heartache for the veteran Olympian as he ended second in 49.99 behind Portugal’s Luis Goncalves (49.99) but ended up being disqualified for running outside his lane.
Langenhoven had opened his Rio road with an easy victory in the heats as he cantered to a  season’s best 50.26.
T44 track action saw Arnu Fourie safely through to the final of the T44 100m action.
And he was part of a Paralympic record race as 2012 Paralympian gold medallist Jonnie Peacock won in 10.81sec. Fourie, a gold medal winner in 2012 as part of the 4x400m relay team, clocked 11.19 to book his place in the final.
In the second heat fellow South African Mpumi Mhlongo was fifth in 11.33 as Kiwi Liam Malone blitzed to a  T43 record or 10.90.
Mhlongo, originally from KwaZulu-Natal but now studying at UCT, blasted out of the blocks to be right up there but fell back in the final 30m.
And two-time Paralympian Roxy Burns was the first Team SA cyclist in action in the C1-3 3km Individual Pursuit.
The Cape Town rider ended 11th in 4min 43.478sec. That was 38.098 behind winner Megan Giglia of Great Britain.
But there was consolation in disappointment as she is in action in three separate events in Rio and this was certainly not her best event.
The world record got smashed twice during the day’s action and as cycling coach Ricky Kulsen (he served in the same position four years ago in London) said: ‘She rode a personal best as a C3 athlete. She lost valuable time by riding too wide but otherwise it was good.’
Her previous best was a 4:46.


57 Comments

  1. Amy Jill Williams

    September 8, 2016 at 10:39 pm

    Wonderful!! So proud

  2. Faith Moloi

    September 8, 2016 at 11:18 pm

    we are so behind you team SA…every step of the way.

  3. Danica van Rensburg

    September 8, 2016 at 11:38 pm

    Super proud!! WELL DONE!! Congratulations!! U0001f38aU0001f389U0001f4afU0001f4a5U0001f31fU0001f31fU0001f31f

  4. Olebogeng Papage-Olerato Mosepedi

    September 9, 2016 at 12:03 am

    So proud of you

  5. Redowan Patel

    September 9, 2016 at 12:17 am

    Well done Paul ..U0001f3c5

  6. Beth Jacobs Ferreira

    September 9, 2016 at 1:35 am

    Congratulations Paul! What a fantastic achievement. We are so proud.

  7. Lilian Haggland

    September 9, 2016 at 2:09 am

    Very Proud.Well done!!

  8. Ilse Kydd

    September 9, 2016 at 2:44 am

    Well done Kevin Paul!

  9. Nazneen Lalla

    September 9, 2016 at 3:24 am

    #TeamPalestine #TeamGold #Rio #Paralympics

  10. Tammy Morrison

    September 9, 2016 at 3:58 am

    Well Done 🙂

  11. Angee Hlophe

    September 9, 2016 at 4:00 am

    Congratulation and Well done…Very proud of you…..

  12. Jonginkosi Pewula

    September 9, 2016 at 4:00 am

    Well done Kevin

  13. Ziphorah Zee Mashishi

    September 9, 2016 at 4:05 am

    Wow! Congrats Kevin

  14. Michael Potts

    September 9, 2016 at 4:06 am

    fantastic effort well done

  15. Ingrid Burton

    September 9, 2016 at 4:06 am

    Well done Kevin!! Yay!!! Fantastic stuff!!! U0001f600U0001f600U0001f600

  16. Fazila Morrison

    September 9, 2016 at 4:06 am

    Well done Paul. Great championU0001f44d

  17. Mandy Morrow

    September 9, 2016 at 4:10 am

    Well done Kevin!

  18. Ursula Hartig

    September 9, 2016 at 4:13 am

    Wow – so proud U0001f3ca

  19. Luz Tlhabane

    September 9, 2016 at 4:16 am

    Well done my baby.. Love you

  20. Robyn Cousins

    September 9, 2016 at 4:28 am

    Congratulations Kevin Paul. That’s awesome! U0001f3caU0001f3fbU0001f3caU0001f3fbU0001f3caU0001f3fbU0001f3caU0001f3fb

  21. Gillian Wratten

    September 9, 2016 at 4:31 am

    A wonderful swim!!

  22. Felicia Cudin

    September 9, 2016 at 4:32 am

    Well done Kevin! !!!

  23. Yvonne Phillips

    September 9, 2016 at 4:35 am

    Very proud of you. Well done.

  24. Ronda Wilkinson

    September 9, 2016 at 4:35 am

    Yay Kevin Paul

  25. Saphokazi Dlanjwa

    September 9, 2016 at 4:39 am

    Wow U0001f3caU0001f3ca SA is proud of u Kevin well done U0001f44fU0001f44f

  26. Mary Watson

    September 9, 2016 at 4:47 am

    Fantastic well done Kevin U0001f1ffU0001f1e6U0001f1ffU0001f1e6 we are so proud of you

  27. Juanita Areington

    September 9, 2016 at 4:50 am

    Brilliant! So proud not only because he is from PE but a Grey High gentleman!

  28. Shaun Pinn

    September 9, 2016 at 4:52 am

    Well done Kevin so excited for you!!!!

  29. Diane Parry

    September 9, 2016 at 4:54 am

    Well done that is great

  30. Melanie Philander

    September 9, 2016 at 4:54 am

    Whoop whoop!!!!well done Kevin.

  31. Erika Kotze

    September 9, 2016 at 5:02 am

    Ons trots Suid Afrika

  32. Tessa Unger Farnham

    September 9, 2016 at 5:10 am

    Well done .

  33. Sheila Quiel

    September 9, 2016 at 5:10 am

    I watched it. It was a fantastic swim on his part!

  34. Rosemarie Patrizia Drummond Lavarack

    September 9, 2016 at 5:16 am

    Congratulations! You are a hero.

  35. Beverley Bradbury

    September 9, 2016 at 5:19 am

    Absolutely fantastic, well done and so very proud of you!!

  36. Glynis Mauldon

    September 9, 2016 at 5:30 am

    Wonderful news to wake up congratulations #KevinPaul

  37. Keegan Longueira

    September 9, 2016 at 5:30 am

    Awesome Kev U0001f64cU0001f44dU0001f44dU0001f44dU0001f4aaU0001f4aaU0001f4aa

  38. Stuart Morrison

    September 9, 2016 at 5:33 am

    Great. Well done.

  39. Marge Furman

    September 9, 2016 at 5:43 am

    Congratulations Kevin Paul so proud of you in bringing a gold medal back to S.Africa.

  40. Sandra Kruger

    September 9, 2016 at 5:45 am

    Go boy make us all prou yo be South African. I salute all our Paralimpic AthletesU0001f44dU0001f64fU0001f49d

  41. Lindiwe Mdluli Bhekiswayo

    September 9, 2016 at 5:48 am

    congratulations thats good

  42. Patsy Tatham

    September 9, 2016 at 5:55 am

    Awesome swim congratulations Kevin …. so proud of you !!

  43. Amanda van der Walt

    September 9, 2016 at 6:01 am

    Well done young man! Very proud of you.U0001f44fU0001f44f

  44. Jackie Bolton

    September 9, 2016 at 6:11 am

    Well done Kevin we are so proud of youU0001f44d

  45. Merle Dawe

    September 9, 2016 at 6:13 am

    Woohoo! Congratulations Kevin Paul on your Olympic Gold. You rock! Woohoo

  46. Clifton J Tait

    September 9, 2016 at 6:36 am

    Congratulations Kevin U0001f609

  47. Stephen Gans

    September 9, 2016 at 6:45 am

    Awesome Kevin. Congrats

  48. Pauline Coetzee

    September 9, 2016 at 9:15 am

    oh wow wonderful

  49. Hannetjie Morland

    September 9, 2016 at 9:20 am

    Baie geluk! So trots op jou!!

  50. Avril Easton Cleenwerck

    September 9, 2016 at 9:23 am

    Brilliant so proud!!!!U0001f499U0001f499U0001f499U0001f499

  51. Lebogang Thekiso Pheko

    September 9, 2016 at 9:32 am

    Congratulations we’re proud of u Kevin

  52. Johan Bester

    September 9, 2016 at 10:33 am

    Fantasties!! Baie geluk!

  53. Lynette van Rooyen

    September 9, 2016 at 1:45 pm

    Thank you Paul…and Congrats dear

  54. Ronelle Putter

    September 9, 2016 at 2:09 pm

    Well done! You made us very proud

  55. Marion Wells

    September 9, 2016 at 3:16 pm

    Well done ❤❤

  56. Sandra Benn

    September 9, 2016 at 8:19 pm

    Congratulations. Showing the world and doing SA proud. Thank you !

  57. Mmamose Mashilo

    September 9, 2016 at 9:31 pm

    Proud South African!! Well done

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