Beijing: More medals for team SA

2008-09-08 00:00

Beijing — South Africa are fifth on the paralympic Games medal list, with three more gold medals yesterday and a bronze in javelin.

“Flying Fish” Natalie du Toit, as her Chinese fans call her, won her second gold (100m freestyle) in a Paralympics record time of 1:01.44.

Eighteen-year-old Charl Bouwer took gold in his 400m freestyle, in a world record time (4:14,02).

And in the equestrian competition, Philippa Johnson took gold in the dressage competition on Benedict. In a near-faultless performance, they scored 69.290 points.

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

After the 100 m freestyle finals, Du Toit was somewhat disappointed not to have swum 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 can’t believe how enthusiastic the Chinese are when I’m swimming.”

The sight-handicapped Bouwer’s winning time was 10 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 50 metres he was involved in a desperate duel with the Ukraine’s Danylo Chufarov.

Bouwer said it was the last time he will just believe what someone says.

“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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