Anruné Liebenberg scorched to 400m track silver on Wednesday night to take Team South Africa’s medal tally to one short of double figures
Running in the T45-46-47 classification (upper limb impairment) she repeated her feat from the last Paralympics in London four years ago.
Sure, the time may have been a full 2.03sec slower than London as she slowed drastically in the final straight but the Stellenbosch sprinter has extenuating circumstances… well, actually two of them!
Not once, but twice has she gone under the knife this year for knee operations and five months ago she didn’t even know if there was a place reserved for her in Rio. Never has the saying ‘every cloud has a silver lining’ been so apt.
“Phew, from November last year it’s been tough and just being here is actually a miracle. I really wanted to go out and get gold and a PB – that was the most precious thing I wanted.
“I went really hard in first 200 and then that last 100m I just didn’t have that extra bit of oomph, but I’m still proud of myself for having represented my country and already looking forward to the 200m on Thursday and Friday.”
In the half-lapper, she brought bronze back from London with a time of 25.55
As expected it was China’s Lu Li, the fastest athlete into the final, who took gold in a time of 58.09sec as she hauled in a leg-weary Liebenberg who clocked 58.88, almost two seconds ahead of Japan’s bronze medallist Sae Tsuji (1:00.62).
Despite Liebenberg’s medal, South Africa, which now has three gold, three silver and three bronze medals, has slipped still further down the medals table, from 23rd to 27th.
In the only other athletics finals involving South Africa, Zandile Nhlapo ended eighth in the F34 shot put with a 5.63m effort.
Heat action saw Jonathan Ntutu run 11.10 in the T12 100m heats and go through to the semi-finals. Likewise, 200m silver medallist Ntando Mahlangu ran 12.70 for third in his T42 heat, also good for a semifinal slot.
Heartache for Graham Paull
In the canoeing, there was heartache for Graham Paull, the man from Haenertsburg, Limpopo. He ended fourth in his KL1 200m heat and looked to have qualified for the semi-finals but his boat was discovered to be fractionally underweight at the weigh-in and meant a disqualification.
Out at Pontal, cyclists Ernst van Dyk and Justine Asher returned fifth places in the H5 and H2-3 time trials after Craig Ridgard had started off with 11th in the C2.
Final man in action was Goldy Fuchs who was ninth in the T-12 class.
In archery’s individual open compound division, Shaun Anderson did well to reach the round of 1/16 where he lost 129-144 to Great Britain’s Nathan Macqueen.
On to Thursday’s action and Team SA has aquatics, athletics and cycling representation
Hendri Herbst is the sole swimmer in action as he goes off in the S11 100m freestyle. South Africa will be behind Herbst as this was the same race he medalled in four years ago.
Apart from Liebenberg, Ntutu and Mahlangu, five other SA track and field athletes will compete.
Dyan Buis is in the long jump final (T38), the event in which he won bronze four years ago, and Chenelle van Zyl goes in the F34 shot put final.
Charl du Toit, 100m gold medallist earlier in the games, lines up for the T37 400m heats while blind Bloemfontein runner Louzanne Coetzee is in the heats of the 1 500m along with her guide Khothatso Mokone.
Also in the field events is 2015 world F38 javelin champion, Reinhardt Hamman.
Like bronze medal shot-putter Tyrone Pillay did, Hamman will be devoting his event to the memory of his dad, Louis who passed away in March this year.
Author: ANA Newswire