By Mark Etheridge
“Who’s the best? Who’s the best!” roared Samkelo Radebe as Team South Africa’s 4×100-metre track relay team left the in-field area of the Paralympic Stadium her on Wednesday night.
The whole world knew who was the best.. 41.78 seconds (world record) flashed up on monitors around the stadium ÔÇô the team of Radebe, Zivan Smith, Arnu Fourie and Oscar Pistorius had rocked the world to win South Africa’s fourth gold and 17th overall medal of these Paralympics.
The flying quartet led from start to finish and it was significant that Pistorius held off Brazilian Alan Oliveira, the man who had beaten him in a shock result in the 200m earlier in the week. Oliveira was coming on strong again down the home straight but Pistorius’s three team-mates had given him enough of a headstart to come up trumps on this occasion
Brazil and the United States (both strong medal contenders) were later disqualified, the former for an improper changeover and the latter for running outside the lane.
This saw China elevated to silver medal status (42.98) and Germany move into the medal placings (45:23).
Radebe who was warned for a false start at the gun had been a nervous man. “I just heard the gun go off twice. Oscar had told me to listen for the sound of the shot behind me so I listened very carefully the next time. My job was to make sure I got to Zivan first and I believe I did,” he grinned.
“I can tell you I smacked him very, very hard to get him going for the second leg.”
Smith took up the tale. “I just went on my gut instinct and started running early and then I heard the loud ‘YES’ behind me and there he was. I’m sure we led from start to finish.’
On to Fourie: “I was so hyped up I just wanted to go. Then I saw the Americans stumble or have some problem next to me and then I just went. I handed over to Oscar and I saw we had about a 4-5m gap and knew we had it. I think I must have run a full 200m following Oscar to the line.”
Meanwhile, Riversdale’s most popular citizen right now, Dylan Buis leapt to his second medal of the Games when he jumped to bronze in the F58 long jump event.
After opening with a no-jump, the youngster left it late before soaring to┬á 6.48 metre class world record with his penultimate leap. However due to the classification factoring system, two jumpers ended ahead of him.
“I think Riversdale is still excited after my silver in the 100m earlier in the week so this will keep them happy,” he said. “I came here wanting a world record but I was a bit surprised when I no-jumped to start becaues normally it’s my first jump that is my furthest.
“My medal jump was great, everything felt perfectly in sequence so I have to be happy, especially as it’s my first Paralympics and I’ve won another medal for my country.
“Now tomorrow I have a day off before the 200m so I’ll rest up nicely and have a massage to get ready for that.”
Also jumping with Buis was Andre Dalle Ave and he ended fifth overall. “It’s amazing jumping in a packed stadium like this. Coming into the competition my best was a 5.27 and now I’ve jumped 6.02 and its an African record.
“At one stage I was lying second but that’s how it goes. I still have the 100m to go and hopefully a lot more Paralympics because I’m still only 19.”
The third SA jumper in action and a bronze medallist earlier in the Games, Union Sekailwe ended 10th with a 5.10m effort.
Earlier, in the hottest debated category of the Games, the T43-44 class, our two South Africans went through to the final of the T44 100-metre final with lots of class and little controversy. Pistorius and Fourie won heat two and three respectively with times of 11.18 and 11.29 respectively.
That saw them qualifying second and third fastest for Thursday night’s final. Fastest qualifier was Great Britain’s Johnny Peacock in 11.08.
While Pistorius, possibly in the light of his statements after the 200m final, opted for the strong, silent route away from the media, Fourie said he felt on track to a good run in the final.
“I didn’t get out the blocks all that well so I had to work a bit harder that I would have liked at the end,” he said.
“I didn’t want to go too hard but on the other hand I also wanted a good lane draw for the final.
“The main thing is that we’re through to the final and I feel a lot more confident in the 100 because my strong points is in those last 30 metres. Everyone has a chance in this final.
“The fact that you’re running two races in the space of three hours and then you go to sleep knowing that you have another one the next day weighs a bit on your mind but that’s life…”
Athletics was the only codes to deliver medals on Wednesday night with swimming having a barren time for a change.
Twelve-time gold medal winner Natalie du Toit swam her last 50m dash (S9) and ended seventh while Tadhg Slattery ended fifth in the SB5 100m breaststroke, like Du Toit, in his sixth and last Paralympic Games