While “veteran” Kevin Paul predictably grabbed the glory – and the headlines – with breaststroke gold on Thursday’s opening day of the 2016 Paralympics in Rio‚ two Team South Africa debutants were delighting in their own opportunities.
Paul won Team SA’s first medal of the Games but over at the athletics track‚ North-West’s Liezel Gouws (track) and Mpumi Mhlongo both experienced their first taste of the Paralympics as they competed in the T37 and T44 categories respectively.
Gouws clocked 14.88 in the 100-metre heats to qualify for the final while Mhlongo’s 11.33‚ also in 100m heat action‚ was not enough to see him progress.
But that did not detract one iota from the satisfaction factor.
“It was a great experience‚” said Gouws‚ a product of Hoerskool Wesvalia in Klerksdorp.
“The 100m isn’t my strongest item as I’m focusing more on the 400 which we’ll run on the 12th and 13th but the 100m was a great ice-breaker.
“My mindset was just to get in there and experience my first Paralympic race‚ run with joy and just take in how blessed I am to be here and run against the world’s best and showcase my God-given talents.
“I qualified with a season’s best so I’m also very happy about that. And‚ after last year’s injury and subsequent operation that saw me missing both World Championships and African Games‚ it’s just a miracle that I’m here so I’m blessed with the privilege of racing Friday’s finals.
“I’m trusting God has something awesome planned and I’m looking forward to what’s in store.”
As for Mhlongo‚ like Gouws‚ the sprint is not his premier event – that’s the long jump later in the Games.
“It’s been a tough year for me juggling my final year in Chemical Engineering and attempting to prepare for one of the world’s biggest events‚’ said the product of Kearsney College in KwaZulu-Natal.
“Either way‚ what I can tell you for sure is that I enjoyed every moment of that race. I felt as though I got out very well and my leg just could not hold the speed I generated.
“Next year will be a different year for the sprints as I am currently getting even more blessings than I deserve to work with the innovative Johan Snyders.
“Most importantly‚ I could not be more excited to watch Arnu [Fourie] do us proud once again on Friday but it will be the last time I watch from the sidelines.
Named University of Cape Town’s 2015 Sportsperson of the Year‚ he’s raring to go. “I can only hope to draw more inspiration that will allow me to enjoy long jump more than the 100m because it is my chance at soaring and having fun in the sandpit without any judgement.”
Results from Friday 9 September 2016
SWIMMING: Heats: Shireen Shapiro – 50m Freestyle S10 (finished 7th in 31.89‚ did not qualify for finals) Henri Herbst – 100m Backstroke S11 (finished 5th in 1:14.44‚ did not qualify for finals) Emily Gray – 400m Freestyle S9 (finished as 6th fastest qualifier for finals in 4:58.10) Finals: Emily Gray – 400m Freestyle S9 (finished 7th time of 4:59.18)
ATHLETICS: Leizel Gouws – 100m T37 final (finished 8th in a time of 14.84 a PB) Arnu Fourie – 100m T44 final (finished 4th with a time of 11.11)
CYCLING: Final: Dane Wilson – Individual kilo C4-5 (17th place finish)
TENNIS: Eliphas Maripa – Men’s singles WT01-04 (won 1st round match 7-5‚ 6-0 v Suthi Khlongua of Thaiwan) Leon Els – Men’s singles WT01-04 (was beaten 3-6‚ 3-6 by Ronald Nemeth of Hungary) Lucas Sithole – Quad’s singles WT01-04 (won 1st round match 6-1‚ 6-2 v Shota Kawano of Japan)
ROWING: Heats: Sandra Khumalo AS Women’s tx (finished 5th and qualifies for Repechage) Willie Morgan‚ Shannon Murray‚ Lucy Perold‚ Dylan Trollope‚ Dieter Rosslee LTA mixed 4+ (finished 3rd and qualifies for Repechage) Athletes in action on Saturday 10 September 2016
SWIMMING: Heats: 10.42am (SA 3.42pm) Alani Ferreira – 200m IM SM13 11.00am (SA 4pm) Shireen Shapiro – 100m Backstroke S10 Potential finals: 19.06 (SA 00.06 Sun) Alani Ferreira – 200m IM SM13 19.38 (SA 00.38 Sun) Shireen Shapiro – 100m Backstroke S10 Potential medal presentation: 20.34 (SA 01.34 Sun) Alani Ferreira – 200m IM SM13 20.42 (SA 01.42 Sun) Shireen Shapiro – 100m Backstroke S10
ATHLETICS: Final: 10.40am (SA 3.40pm) Hilton Langenhoven – Long Jump T12 Heats: 11.23am (SA 4.23pm) Fanie van der Merwe/Charl du Toit – 100m T37 12.02 (SA 5.02pm) Ilse Hayes – 100m T13 12.53 (SA 5.53pm) medal ceremony – Hilton Langenhoven – Long Jump T12 18.18 (SA11.18pm) Ntando Mahlangu – 200m T42
CYCLING: Final: 10.00 (SA 3pm) Roxy Burns – Individual 500 C1-3 11.38 (SA 4.38pm) medal presentation Roxy Burns 11.50 (SA 4.50) Dane Wilson – Qualifying Individual pursuit C5 19.15 (SA 00.15 sun) Dane Wilson – Final Individual pursuit C5 19.40 (SA 00.40 sun)medal presentation (Dane Wilson – Individual pursuit C5)
TENNIS: 11.00am (SA 3pm) Kgothatso Montjane – Women’s singles WT05-08 11.00am (SA 3pm) Eliphas Maripa/Leon Els – Men’s doubles WT05-08 11.00am (SA 3pm)Lucas Sithole – Quad’s singles quarter finals WT05-08
ROWING: Repechage: 08.30am (SA 1.30pm) Sandra Khumalo AS Women’s tx (mixed) 10.30am (SA 3.30pm) Willie Morgan‚ Shannon Murray‚ Lucy Perold‚ Dylan Trollope‚ Dieter Rosslee LTA mixed 4+
ARCHERY: 15.00 (SA 8pm) Shaun Anderson – Ranking round