Pistorius cracks invite to elite Paralympic event

2010-04-15 09:27

Four of South Africa’s top athletes have been honoured with an

invitation to the prestigious BT Paralympic World Cup in Manchester next

month.

Sprinters Oscar Pistorius, Fanie van der Merwe, and Arnu Fourie,

and discus thrower Fanie Lombard were on an elite invitation-only list to the

premier multisport competition which will take place between May 25 and

31.

With the BT Paralympic World Cup this year encompassing a team

competition, the quartet will form part of a powerful Rest of the World line-up

to accumulate points in a team situation against teams from Great Britain, the

Americas and Europe.

To illustrate what a prestigious event the World Cup is, last

year’s event saw 351 athletes from 38 countries, including no less than 174

Beijing medallists, compete across four sporting disciplines, with television

coverage reaching 82 countries worldwide.

This year’s competition will give athletes the opportunity to

measure themselves with an eye on the London 2012 Paralympics, as well as to

compete in a multisport team event.

According to Koos Engelbrecht, president of the SA Sports

Association for the Physically Disabled, the invitation is a testament to the

hard work and dedication shown by the athletes. “It is a wonderful honour for

the athlete’s involved to know they are considered part of the elite competitors

worldwide in their particular discipline. This is no ordinary event, and

considering it is an invitation-only list, they will be able to take their

places alongside the elite athletes of the world.”

Big drawcard

Pistorius is one of the biggest drawcards on the international

stage, having won his battle at the Court for Arbitration in Sport to compete

against able-bodied athletes, and will be back to defend his 100m and 400m

titles at the event.

“The event comes at a key time in my season and I will be looking

to set fast times in the 100m and 400m,” Pistorius said. “The London Games are

just two years away now and to have major international competition in the UK is

crucial for my preparations as I look to defend my Paralympic titles and also

compete in the Olympic Games.”

But while Pistorius will have his share of the limelight, the

rising star of Fanie van der Merwe will also be closely watched after his recent

exceptional run in Dubai at the second Fazza International Athletics Competition

to break his own world record in the T37 - 200 metres.

Van der Merwe previously set the mark at the 2008 Beijing

Paralympics, and his new mark of 23.19 seconds showed significant improvement on

his Beijing time of 23.84 seconds.

He is also the Beijing Paralympic champion in the T37 class for 100

metres.

Making a

comeback

Veteran four-time Paralympian Fanie Lombard, who retired after the

Athens and Beijing Paralympics, will make another comeback as he tries to

qualify for the World Championships and London 2012.

Lombard, who has won 12 medals at the Paralympics over the years

and is a former world champion in pentathlon, shot put and discus, will again

compete in the discus in Manchester.

The fourth invitee, Arnu Fourie, is one of the most promising

athletes who went to Beijing, ending fourth in his 100-metre race, and ended his

season last year with a gold medal at the IAAF Golden League meeting in France.

He ran the 100 metre T44 in 11,57 seconds, a personal best.


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