By Gareth Duncan in Lusaka, Zambia
Paralympic gold medallist Fanie van der Merwe hopes to complete an memorable year by coaching a few of his junior athletes to the podium at the Zone VI Games.
Van der Merwe starred at the Paralympic Games in London, winning the gold medal in the men’s 100m in the T37 class. This was his third gold triumph following his success in the 100m and 200m T37 races at the Paralympic Games in Beijing in 2008.
The sprinter will now finish 2012 as a coach as he mentors visually-impaired athletes at the Zone VI Games in Zambia.
Van der Merwe said it’s been a challenging, yet rewarding, experience.
‘This is the first time I’m coaching athletes in an international competition in another country,’ he told RoadtoRio.co.za. ‘There’s been some challenges, but I received some great help from those around me. That’s made my job so much easier.
‘It’s been a great experience. It’s a good feeling to help improve these athletes’ performances and development. If I can get one medal from this group, I’d be delighted with that.’
While Van der Merwe focuses on his own training, he takes time out to train two groups of disabled athletes in Stellenbosch and Kuils River during the week.
Zone VI Games visually-impaired athletics team manager Ryk van Schoor believes the Paralympic hero has made a massive difference.
‘The athletes look up to him,’ Van Schoor said. ‘He inspires them and they are encouraged to do better. They believe they can be as successful as he has been.’