SouthAfrica.info (Johannesburg)

7 September 2012

South Africa: Natalie Wins Third Gold, Team SA's Fifth

Photo: BackpagePix
Oscar Pistorius won an individual gold, defending his Paralympic 400-meters title in the last competition in the Olympic Stadium

Natalie du Toit won her third and South Africa's fifth gold medal of the London Paralympics on Thursday evening by racing to victory in the women's 200 metres individual medley SM9 class.

After getting off to a strong start, unusually for her, Du Toit slipped to second at the halfway mark.

Despite the third leg being breaststroke, her weakest stroke, she moved moved ahead of Britain's Stephanie Millward before coming home strongly in the freestyle to win by 1.99 seconds in a time of 2:34.22.

Louise Watkin and Claire Cashmore filled the next two positions to give the hosts, Great Britain, a 2-3-4 finish.

13 gold medals

Du Toit has won 13 gold medals in her Paralympic career, which dates back to Athens 2004, and now only one more race is left in that career, the 100m freestyle.

Looking ahead to it, Du Toit told reporters: "I'm sad but also relieved, as well as a little bit scared. I think scared because I have no idea what I'm going to do with myself.

"I'm also nervous for the race because I'm not swimming so well and those girls have really improved, especially in the 100s and 50s.

"So, I've got to try my best to walk away with a medal and it will be very special being my last competition.

"Hopefully I won't cry, but I'm going to give it everything."

400m silver

Hilton Langenhoven, a winner of three gold medals in Beijing, placed second in the men's 400m in the T12 class.

He ran a personal best 49.04 to take silver, but a world record of 48.52 secured Tunisia's Mahmoud Khaldi the gold.

"I'm very proud as it was a personal best for me, so the medal is just a cherry on top," commented Langenhoven afterwards.

There was another silver medal for South Africa in the women's 100m T13 classification. Ilse Hayes, a runner-up in Beijing, was a runner-up again in London, although four-hundredths-of-a-second faster this time around.

She clocked 12.41 seconds, but victory went to Cuba's Moara Durand in a Paralympic record of 12 seconds flat. Johanna Pretorius finished eighth in the same race.

100m T44 final

In one of the most highly anticipated events of the evening, the men's 100 metres T44 classification, Arnu Fourie finished third and Oscar Pistorius fourth.

Jonnie Peacock provided a home victory in a Paralympic record of 10.90 seconds. Richard Browne was second in a personal best 11.03, and Fourie claimed the bronze medal in a regional record of 11.08. Defending champion Pistorius, in fourth, ran a season's best 11.17, and Alan Oliviera, the winner of the 200 metres, finished seventh in 11.33.

Pistorius told reporters: "What we have seen tonight is a great Paralympic sprinter. It was a great performance.

"The 100m is not my thing and it shows how much the sport has grown," he added.

"I have to be happy to come here and run my best race," Fourie said about his bronze medal.

Improved competition

Teboho Mokgalagadi, the winner of a gold medal in the T35 200 metres in Athens eight years ago (the event wasn't run in Beijing), finished fifth in a personal best time of 27.02 seconds, which served to underline how much Paralympic competition has improved in recent years.

Ukraine's Iuri Tsaruk captured gold in a world record of 25.86 seconds. The three men that followed him over the finishing line all set regional records, while the three men that finished behind Mokgalagadi all set personal best times.

Jonathan Ntutu won his 200 metres T13 class heat in a regional record time of 22.40 seconds to advance to the final. However, Ireland's Jason Smyth was easily the fastest qualifier in a time of 21.48 seconds.

100m T46

Samkelo Radebe, a member of South Africa's world record setting T42/46 relay team, failed to progress beyond the heats in the men's 100m T46 class in which Brazil's Yohansson Nascimento set a world record of 10.94 in Radebe's heat.

Despite registering a season's best mark of 6.41 metres in the F32/33/34 women's shot put, Zandile Nhlapo's effort was good for 12th place only.

In the pool, Kevin Paul swam an African record 55.55 in the men's S10 100m freestyle, but it wasn't enough to secure him a place in the final. Achmat Hassien had set the African record in an earlier heat, but he too failed to advance.

Medals

South Africa moved up one place on the medal table after Thursday's action with five gold, seven silver and nine gold medals, for a total of 21 medals in all.

China is secure at the top of the table, with more than double the number of gold medals of the second placed country. They have 70 gold, 60 silver and 53 bronze medals, for a tally of 183.

Hosts, Great Britain (31.39.38, 108), edged ahead of Russia (31, 31, 23, 85) in a tight battle for second place.

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