By Mark Etheridge
Charl du Toit became Team South Africa’s first double medallist of the Rio Paralympics on Friday.
He added to his T37 gold medal in the 100m dash at the weekend by snatching another victor in the 400m event.
That meant that the 23-year-old boosted the team’s tally to 14 medals with just Saturday and Sunday’s events to go.
The Johannesburg-born, Stellenbosch-based athlete clocked 51.13 seconds for a Paralympic record as he won gold by almost two seconds from Venezuela’s Omar Monterola (52.93).
‘I’m just so thankful for this,’ said Du Toit. ‘I woke up this morning and wasn’t feeling too good but the team doctor woke up early and helped me get rid the stuff in my chest, a wonderful medical team we have here.
‘And I am also surrounded by a wonderful training group. You know, at the beginning of the year we all got a theme to train by and mine was “Smiling Lightning”, said the man who has made a smile his trademark during these games.’
Speaking of his race he said: ‘My wonderful coach, Suzanne Ferreira, and I spoke before the race and we agreed that I’d be conservative for the first 200m and then accelerate form there and it all worked out.
’To get two gold medals at my age, never in my wildest dreams did I expect that but then again, I train with some of the best athletes in the world.
‘Me and my family have been through a few tough months but hopefully I did my country proud.’
Also on the track T47 athlete Anruné Liebenberg was unable to emulate her silver medal in the 400m as she ended fourth in the 200m final with a time of 26.57.
But Dyan Buis, who won bronze in the T38 long jump on Thursday did enough to get through to the 400m final with a 54.66 finish in the heats.
In the pool Emily Gray, possibly ended her Paralympic career with the way she started it, in the 100m backstroke (S9). She was agonisingly one spot away from making the final, ninth fastest in the heats with a time of 1:16.42.
In cycling Craig Ridgard ended 28th in the final of the C1-3 road race while Goldy Fuchs was ninth in the T1-2 classification.
And there was to be no joy for four-time Paralympian Philippa Johnson and Lord Louis in the Individual Freestyle Test. The dressage combination were eliminated.
Friday’s golden action from Du Toit sees the team sitting in 19th spot with 14 medals.
Picture of Du Toit dashing to his gold medal double courtesy of Wessel Oosthuizen/SASPA