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SA’s medal tally up to 21

Team South Africa took their medal tally to 21 after the sixth day of competition at the IPC Athletics World Championships in Christchurch, New Zealand on Thursday.

The day saw another four medals being added to their baggage — Ilse Hayes and Fanie Lombaard both got gold, Anrune Liebenberg secured silver and Zanele Situ’s bronze took the medal count to four.

The South African medal count now comprises seven golds, seven silvers and seven bronzes.

Hayes, who already had a gold and bronze medal going into the women’s long jump (T13). Her leap of 5.80 metres, just six centimetres shorter than the 5.86m she jumped in Bottrop, Germany last year, easily sealed the gold medal ahead of Australia’s Jessica Gallagher (5.51m) and Belarus’s Hanna Kaniuk (5.35m).

She opened her campaign with a leap of 5.51m, followed by efforts of 5.23 and 5.59 before sealing victory with her final jump. Her distance would have been a championship record (previous mark 5.58m) but a strong tail-wind of 3.5m per second meant it won’t be recognised. “It’s been an awesome championships for me, winning two golds and a bronze,” said Hayes. It’s really great to be part of a team like this with amazing spirit and support.”

Hayes’ husband Cassie said he had also spoken to Ilse after her victory. “She’s very excited but is looking forward to getting home and is craving lamb chops and red wine.”

Added coach Suzanne Ferreira: “Conditions for long jump were difficult with a swirling wind that was constantly changing so it was hard for her to get a good take-off. In the circumstances a great jump and these championships were among Ilse’s best.”

Lombaard, at age 41 a truly seasoned para-athletics campaigner, also got his second medal of the competition when a season’s best 42.03 gave him gold in the discus (F42), ahead of Gino de Keermaeker of Belgium (41.70m). Lombaard’s first two throws landed at 40.29 and 41.89. “It just goes to show that you can’t buy experience,” said Ferreira. “There was a very special moment when they played the national anthem — after it switched off after just 90 seconds the entire team sitting in the pavilion continued to sing it, confirmation of this team’s spirit.”

Youngster Liebenberg got close to the 60sec mark in taking silver in the women’s T46 400m final. Going into the championships ranked first in the world in her category, she clocked 1:00.68 as Cuba’s Yunidis Castillo ran away with the title in 57.67.

The other medal belonged to Zanele Situ, our team’s only F54 athlete. Her effort in the javelin hit the 15.65m mark with Tunisia’s Hania Aidi winning the event in 17.27.

Other finals also saw South Africans in action. In the mens shot put (F38) where Gerrit Kruger and Juanr├® Steenkamp had respective efforts of 9.72 and 11.56m for ninth and 10th spot. Then in the women’s long jump (F38) Juanelie Meijer leapt a personal best 3.40m for 10th spot. Chenelle Van Zyl placed seventh in the women’s shot put (F35) with a heave of 8.04m.

Blind runner Jan Nehro (with guide Duane Fortuin) made their debut in the 5000m final and ended sixth with a season’s best of 16min 11.63sec.

There was some disappointment in the final of the men’s T13 200m final with Jonathan Ntutu getting across the line first but later being disqualified for stepping outside his lane. And yet more disappointment in the final of the men’s 4x100m relay (T35-38) who were disqualified for a baton handover that took place too late.