'Flying Fish' wins 2nd gold

2008-09-08 22:36

Wilhelm de Swardt

Beijing - The "Flying Fish" did it again on Monday.

Natalie du Toit, who was given this nickname by her Chinese supporters, has won her second gold medal at the Paralympic Games. This means that South Africa's golden harvest now stands at four medals with the team fifth on the medals table.

Du Toit won the 100m freestyle in a Paralympics record time of 1:01.44.

Eighteen-year-old Charl Bouwer also triumphed in the swimming pool when he grabbed gold in the 400m freestyle - also in a world record time (4:14.02).

And in the equestrian competition Philippa Johnson and her horse Benedict took gold in the dressage held in Hong Kong. In a near faultless performance they scored 69.290 points.

Nicholas Newman won bronze in the javelin event in the F35 class for cerebral handicapped athletes.

After the 100m freestyle finals, Du Toit was somewhat disappointed not to have swum it in 1:01.00.

"But I'm not going to punish myself by thinking about what could have been. I won the gold medal and the moment will always remain special to me."

"Du Twa", as her surname is pronounced in Beijing, says it's a huge honour for her to have a Chinese nickname.

"I cannot actually believe how enthusiastic the Chinese become when I'm swimming."

'The bliksem told me he had been sick'

The sight-handicapped Bouwer's winning time was ten seconds faster than his previous best in this event.

He described his golden moment as unbelievable.

"To represent your country at the Games and win a gold medal in a record time is a dream come true."

Over the last 50m he was involved in a desperate duel with the Ukraine's Danylo Chufarov.

But Bouwer said it was the last time he would just believe what someone told him.

"The "bliksem" told me he had been sick for the past two weeks and that he didn't think he would be able to swim very fast.

"And then I had to discover in the pool that he had been lying to me all the time. He was healthy and just as hungry to win as I was."

Johnson won two silver medals at the previous Games in Athens.

Her life changed drastically in 1998 when she was involved in a serious car accident that left her partially paralysed. She gets around in a wheelchair.

When she came to in hospital, just about the first thing she saw was a photograph of her favourite horse.

The photo was her coach and team manager Katrina Puttick's idea.

"Katrina knew that if I could see my horse it would spur me on to fight back and not allow the accident to get the better of me.

"I promised myself in hospital that I would ride again."

She is also due to compete in the free rider section and cannot wait.

"It is my and Benedict's favourite event. You'll see how we'll dance then."

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