By Mark Etheridge
in Brazzaville, Congo
After Lebogang Shange and Wayne Snyman had got the day off on a good footing with gold and bronze in the men’s 20km walk, it was over to the para-athletes to continue with the medal delivery for Team South Africa at the All African Games here on Tuesday.
Between them the para-athletes delivered another four medals – two gold, a silver and a bronze.
Times for the walk weren’t immediately available so some well-deserved focus falls on the para-athletes for now.
First medal went to big Tyrone Pillay in the men’s F42 shot put, which had a turn-out of six competitors.
He opened with an impressive heave of 11.28 metres and as things turned out it was the winning throw.
He also ended impressively with his final effort being 11.28. There was bronze for Heugene Murray in the same event with his best throw pitching at 9.94m.
Said Durban’s Pillay afterwards: ‘It’s great to get the first gold of the para-athletics contingent here at the Games. Just being here and wearing the green and gold is a privilege and whenever one wears the green and gold it’s a special moment.
‘I struggled a bit here though because I injured my index finger a few weeks ago in Stellenbosch and the fact that we threw with a 7.72kg shot today instead of the normal 6kg didn’t help things.
‘My personal best with this weight is 12.05. Now I must get this finger seen to because world championships in Qatar are coming up soon.’
Next up was the men’s T12 200-m final where SA again had two starters in the shape of 2012 Paralympians Jonathan Ntutu and Hilton Langenhoven (pictured above, right and left respectively)
Langenhoven seemed to start the quicker of the two but coming off the bend it was Ntutu who hit the front and held on to win in 22.47 for the gold and Langenhoven was second in 22.69.
‘This is all build-up to IPC World Championships and I had a good race today,’ said 29-year-old Ntutu, originally from Gugulethu but now living in Bellville, Western Cape.
‘I enjoyed the curve and my training is coming to a point where I’m going to definitely be getting quicker.’
His personal best stands at 22.09 at the previous IPC Athletics World Championships in Lyon, France two years ago.
‘The 200m is actually my “second race” with the 100m being my speciality but everything felt good today.’
As for Langenhoven he was more than happy to settle for silver. ‘My coach, Ray Julius has got a nice structure worked out and today was all part of the plan. I’m doing long jump and the 400m in Qatar and I can honestly say that I’m back to just where I want to be in my training.’
Other para-athletics action saw Gerrit Hendricks in the T54 800m wheelchair semi-finals. While three rivals shot to the front early on, Hendricks rode a nice bend to come right back into their slipstream.
And then disaster struck as he picked up a puncture and coasted to a standstill down the main straight. Thankfully the 400m race is more his distance.
The only other para-athlete scheduled for competition was Annika Pretorius in the women’s T13 100m but because of so few entries her event will be a straight final.