SA wheelchair team wins

2008-09-10 10:52

Beijing - South Africa's wheelchair basketball team broke their duck at the Paralympics in Beijing on Wednesday when they defeated Sweden 64-58 in a preliminary match.

After the defeat to Iran in the opening match, stalwart Nick Taylor said they were targeting victories over Sweden and Japan in their group, with the aim of finishing the tournament in the top eight.

Coach Viv Sierra punched the air in delight and relief after the 96-45 hammering his team took at the hands of the Germans the day before.

"In the last quarter we managed to do well and finally won the match because our players believed in themselves," said Sierra.

While the defeat against Germany hurt, Sierra kept his players focused on the matched he was sure they could win: "Tuesday, we planned our strategies against Sweden and Japan. Hopefully we can get a good result tomorrow against Japan.

Going into the Paralympics, South Africa were ranked 12th of the 12 teams who qualified for the games, and took a 5-0 drubbing from fourth-ranked Great Britain in a warm-up tournament played in Singapore.

Dangerous

A brief rally towards the end of the Germany drubbing lifted spirits, and South Africa's play was far more purposeful against Sweden, with only a little wobble in the third quarter.

Sweden scored eight unanswered points during that period, and looked at their most dangerous. "The scores were rather close during the first two quarters, and we lost the third quarter, which I hoped we could win," said Sierra.

"The Swedish team did a good job. They imposed a lot of pressure on us," he added.

And the players responded to the feeling of being in a game instead of being swamped by getting the shots at goal. Richard Nortje shot at 63%, sinking 12 of his 19 attempts and scoring 26 points.

Taylor and captain Marius Papenfus contributed 13 each, and David Curle weighed in with 10, including a crucial two-pointer in the dying minute which took the game beyond the reach of even a couple of miracle three-pointers by the Swedes.

South Africa's good performances in the swimming pool continued as Kevin Paul set a world record in qualifying for the final later on Wednesday in the 100m breaststroke SB9. His 1:08.70 was more than two seconds faster than the old mark of 1:10.85.

Impaired riders

Charl Bouwer also qualified for a final later in the day with his 55.14 in the 100m freestyle S13. His was the fifth-fastest time in the heats.

And, in track cycling, Gavin Kilpatrick and Michael Thomson advanced to the semi-finals of the men's sprint for blind and vision impaired riders.

Thomson is Kilpatrick's "guide".

Summary: Track cycling - Men's sprint B&VI 1-3 qualification Gavin Kilpatrick and Michael Thomson 3rd in 10.641, behind Anthony Kappes and Barney Storey (GBR) in 10.536 (PR) Men's Sprint B&VI 1-3 quarter-final races 1 and 2 of 3 Kilpatrick and Thomson beat Michael Delaney and David Peelo (IRL) over both rides. Advanced to semi-finals. Women's individual pursuit LC3-4/CP3 Susan van Staden finished 9th in qualifying behind Barbara Buchan (USA) in 4:31.334 (WR).

Swimming - Men's 100m breaststroke SB9 Kevin Paul won heat 1 of 2 in 1:08.70 (WR), qualified for final Men's 100m freestyle S13 Charl Bouwer 3rd in heat 1 of 2 in 55.14, qualified for final.

Equestrian - Individual freestyle test Grade II Kerry Noble lying 9th after 9 of 18 competitors have performed.

Wheelchair basketball South Africa beat Sweden 64-58 in Group A preliminary match.

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