Two-time Paralympian Kevin Paul swam to Team South Africa’s first gold medal of the IPC Swimming World Championship in Montreal, Canada on Wednesday evening, writes Mark Etheridge.
A silver medallist at the London Paralympics last year, Paul powered to a 1min 05.85sec victory in the 100m breaststroke (SB9) event. That put him well clear of runner-up Furong Lin of China who swam 1:07.68 to seal silver.
Earlier in the heats Paul had swum 1:07.22, also emerging victorious. The world record belongs to Russian Pavel Poltavtsev who swam 1:04.02 in London last year. Paul’s time in London was 1:05.70.
The Port Elizabeth based swimmer’s gold now joins Hendri Herbst’s bronze medal from earlier in the championships.
“Kevin had another perfect dive, a beautiful glide and comfortable first 50m,” said Team SA coach Tadhg Slattery. “His rhythm changed slightly near the end and the Chinese and Russian swimmers tried to catch him up but he has a strong mind and finished off to take gold.”
Herbst was also in action on Wednesday, ending fifth in the S11 400m freestyle final with a time of 5:11:39. The race was won by Israel Olivier of Spain in 4:48.17.
“Kevin maybe started a bit fast in the first 100m and by 200m he was struggling a bit with his stroke,” said Slattery. “At 300m he found his stroke again and got that fifth spot.”
And then in the S5 backstroke final, it was Beth Nothling who took sixth in a time of 52.22,10.93sec behind Ukraine’s Natalia Prologaieva but the 24-year-old had an African record to bring back as consolation.
“Beth swam well from start to finish and tried really hard but the Ukraine swimmer was just too strong in this race,” summed up Slattery.
Paul will be in action again for Team SA on Thursday with the 200m Individual Medley heats while three-time Paralympian Charl Bouwer goes off in the 50m freestyle (S13) the event he won gold in at the Paralympics last year.
Herbst is as busy as ever and he has the straight final of the 100m freestyle today.