Team South Africa had a golden start to day six of the IPC Athletics World Championships in Christchurch, New Zealand on Thursday.
The morning session saw another four medals being added to their baggage and with more athletes scheduled to compete later in the day, there was hope for still more medals.
Ilse Hayes and Fanie Lombaard both got gold medals, Anrune Liebenberg secured silver and Zanele Situ’s bronze took the medal count to four.
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.”
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.
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.
There was some disappointment in the final of the men’s T13 200m final with Jonathan Ntutu being disqualified due to a false start, this after he had comfortably won his heat the previous day.
For more news on the IPC Athletics World Championships go to: www.ipcathleticsworldchamps.com