In the next instalment of our series looking back at Rio 2016, we relive the day exactly four years ago when Anruné Liebenberg won a silver medal for Team SA at the Paralympic Games.
Anruné Liebenberg scorched to 400-metre track silver to take Team South Africa’s medal tally to one short of double figures.
Running in the T45-46-47 classification (upper-limb impairment) she repeated her feat from the last Paralympics in London four years ago.
Sure the time may have been a full 2.03sec slower than London as she slowed drastically in the final straight but the Stellenbosch sprinter has extenuating circumstances … well, actually two of them!
Not once, but twice has she gone under the knife this year for knee operations and five months ago she didn’t even know if there was a place reserved for her in Rio. Never has the saying ‘every cloud has a silver lining’ been so apt.
‘Phew, from November last year’s it’s been tough and just being here is actually a miracle. I really wanted to go out and get gold and a PB [personal best] – that was most precious thing I wanted.
‘I went really hard in first 200 and then that last 100m I just didn’t have that extra bit of oomph, but I’m still proud of myself for having represented my country and already looking forward to the 200m on Thursday and Friday.
In the half-lapper she brought bronze back from London with a time of 25.55.
‘I’m truly just happy to be back on my feet … all that hard work and patience has paid off and and having my boyfriend [Stefan Weyers] here was very special, too.’
As expected it was China’s Lu Li, the fastest athlete into the final, who took gold in a time of 58.09 as she hauled in a leg-weary Liebenberg who clocked 58.88, almost two seconds ahead of Japan’s bronze medallist, Sae Tsuji (1:00.62).
Despite Liebenberg’s medal, South Africa, who now have three gold, three silver and three bronze medals, have still slipped further down the medals table – from 23rd to 27th.
In the only other athletics finals involving South Africa, Zandile Nhlapo ended eighth in the F34 shot-put with a 5.63m effort.