By Mark Etheridge
South Africa picked up the first two of what will hopefully be many medals at Thursday’s opening day of competition at the IPC Athletics World Championships in Doha, Qatar.
The medals came from Stellenbosch based Dyan Buis and Fanie van der Merwe, both of them medal winners at the last Paralympic Games in London three years ago.
Van der Merwe won the first medal of the evening when he won bronze in the T37 200-metre final in a personal best time of 22.99 seconds with Charl du Toit, also a London Paralympian, fourth in 23.20 (also a personal best time).
Then it was Buis, one of Team SA’s ‘finds’ of the 2012 Paralympics, who dashed to silver in the T38 200m final in a season’s best 22.75. Union Sekailwe ran 23.48 to finish out of the placings.
‘I’ve struggled throughout this season and to get this result is truly amazing to me. First of all I received this medal through the involvement of my heavenly Father in my life as well as through the support from my friends and family, particularly my wife Erna,’ said the deeply religious Buis afterward.
‘Also through the involvement from my sport specific support team. I want to acknowledge the intervention and work put into my sport by my coach Suzanne Ferreira.
The first South African in action at the Championships was Tyrone Pillay in the F42 shot put final and the big Durban athlete will be happy with a season’s best 12.96m which saw him end fourth.
‘I would have loved to be among the medals but it’s all part of the sport,’ said the African Games gold medallist in this event.
‘Making the final was a great achievement and coming into the comp ranked sixth and ending up fourth was a great performance.’
His previous best of the season was a 12.89. ‘It was really hot out there today and I had to have a towel filled with ice, close at hand to keep cool,’ said Pillay.
There was disappointment for African Games 200m T12 gold medallist Jonathan Ntutu as he was disqualified in the heats of his 100m event after clocking 11.16 while in the F44 discus, Lean Simon failed to record a legitimate throw.
Friday’s action features only an afternoon session with three South Africans involved. Paralympic veteran Zanele Situ takes part in the F53/54 javelin event while for long jumper Mpumelelo Mhlongo (F44) and Anika Pretorius (T13, 400m) it’s their debut at an IPC World Championships.
Pretorius won two medals at the recent African Games in Congo.
Pictured above are Du Toit, Buis and Van der Merwe
SA’s trip to the IPC Athletics World Championships is made possible by sponsors Nedbank, SASOL, Sport and Recreation SA, the National Lottery Distribution Fund, 361º and SAA.