By Mark Etheridge
Two-time Paralympic swimmer Emily Gray is brimming with confidence after a successful Nedbank Championships for Physically Disabled in Johannesburg.
The Johannesburg swimmer had her hands full in more ways than one, swimming no less than seven different events.
Her hands were also full of gold medals when the championships came to an end. She won gold in every event she entered.
No wonder she’s looking forward to next week’s nationals. ‘Yes the Nedbank Champs were very good,’ she says. ‘I swam 50, 100 and 400-metre freestyle, 100m backstroke, 4x50m freestyle relay and the 4x50m Individual Medley relay. I got gold in all of those events and also did my personal best in the 50m free.
‘The 50 free time [32.40sec] came in the in the relay, I swam first so it’s an official time.’ she tells Road to Rio 2016.
It stands to reason that she was named best senior swimmer of the meeting. ‘I’m very happy with the way it went, especially being at altitude and without a proper taper.’I’ve got senior nationals coming up next week in Durban where I’ll try and qualify for the World Championships in Glasgow, Scotland in July.’
Gray, who was part of Team South Africa at the 2008 Paralympics in Beijing and in London four years later, lost her left leg to cancer when she was just 11.
And she’s never let her loss get her down, having held her head high at multiple global events, being named as a Nedbank brand ambassador as well as a nominee for the SA Sports Woman of the year with a disability.
The Emile du Bruin coached swimmer is in her final year of Sports Science at Tuks in Pretoria and also takes time out to do motivational talks around the country.
As for nationals, ‘I’m still focusing on all of those same events that I swam in Johannesburg.’
Looking further afield to Rio and next year’s Paralympics she says: ‘I really want to race as much as I can in Rio but having said that my main events are the 400 free and 100 back. I’m going all out to medal in these event.’
At the London Paralympics she swam the 100 and 400m free as well as the 100m backstroke and 200 Individual Medley.
Picture of Gray in action last week courtesy of Anne Laing/HSM Images