SA elite athletes bring disabled champs to a spectacular close

2015-04-03 10:04

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South Africa’s Paralympic hopefuls started their Rio 2016 campaign in style, and brought the Nedbank National Disabled Championships to a stunning close yesterday.

The country’s elite athletes lived up to the hype at the University of Johannesburg Stadium, which has been hosting the tournament since the opening ceremony on Sunday.

In-form field events star Hermanus Blom capped his offensive in style. Blom, who broke two African records the previous day in the shot put and discus throw, added the men’s F13 javelin throw gold medal with an impressive 45.44m heave.

Blom was named the sportsman of the tournament.

Meanwhile, double Paralympic medallist Anrune Liebenberg closed her campaign with a solid victory in the women’s T47 400m race in 56.84 seconds.

Anrune Liebenberg competes in the 400m. She won the women’s T47 400m race in 56.84 seconds. Picture: Duif du Toit/Gallo Images

Another Paralympic star, Union Sekailwe, who earned bronze at the 2012 London Games, won the men’s T38 400m sprint in 53.13.

Union Sekailwe gets ready for the 400m. He won the men’s T38 400m sprint in 53.13. Picture: Duif du Toit/Gallo Images

Charl du Toit also ended the annual championships with a superb performance. After beating a world-class line-up in the men’s T37 200m final on Wednesday, which included three-time Paralympic champion Fanie van der Merwe and Andrea Dalle Ave, Du Toit charged to the national 400m crown, winning his specialist event in 51.92.

Charl du Toit wins the 400m of the 2015 Nedbank National Championships For Physically Disabled. Picture: Duif du Toit/Gallo Images

German athlete Irmgard Bensusan, who set a 200m world record earlier in the week, bagged her third gold medal of the championships, securing victory in the women’s T44 400m race in 1:01.00.

While there were a multitude of African records, and two world records, set in the track and field competition, the country’s elite swimmers also shone at the Nedbank National Championships.

A total of 32 South African records were set in the pool, with teenager Michelle Bloem leading the charge.

Bloem broke six national marks in the women’s S10 class, in the freestyle, backstroke and butterfly disciplines.

More than 1 400 athletes took part in the championships, which included eight sports codes, as they started their build-up to the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio.

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