Herbst wins bronze to add second medal for Team SA
Hendri Herbst won a bronze medal in an otherwise disappointing evening for Team South Africa at the 2012 London Paralympic Games on Friday.
Herbst bagged the bronze medal in the men’s 100m freestyle S11 event, touching in 59.60 seconds.
Bradley Snyder of the US won the gold medal, in 57.43, while China’s Bozun Yang took the silver in 58.61.
Herbst, who hails from Stellenbosch, was born partially blind and over the years lost the rest of his vision.
He still has two more events and will be swimming again on Saturday and Sunday in the 50m freestyle S11 and 100m backstroke S11, respectively.
Natalie du Toit finished fourth in the 100m backstroke S9 final, pipped to the bronze by Elizabeth Stone (1:12.28), after Du Toit had the better of her in the butterfly final on Thursday night.
The South African swam a fraction slower in the final, touching in 1:12.56 after completing the earlier heat in 1:12.52.
“This is one of my fun events and I’ve never done it at a Paralympics before,” Du Toit said.
“Hopefully, day by day my confidence will get better and better.
“I just go out there and try my best but every race is special.” Swimming in the same final, South Africa’s Emily Gray finished seventh, also swimming slower than she had done in the morning, finishing in 1:16.65.
The gold medal went to Australian Ellie Cole, setting an Oceania record in 1:09.42 while the host nation’s Stephanie Millward took the silver medal (1:11.07).
The fourth medal hopeful in the pool was Charles Bouwer, but he too disappointed, finishing seventh, in 59.39 seconds, in the men’s 100m butterfly S13 final, which was won by Ihar Boki of Belarus in 55.50.
On the track, Fanie van der Merwe, leading round the bend, had a speed wobble in the men’s 200m T37 sprint, finishing sixth in 23.79 seconds.
The winner, Roman Kapranov of Russia, equalled Van der Merwe’s world record 23.10 which he set in Maputo last year.
“One side of my body is affected, so you tense up a lot and get a lot more spastic,” said Van der Merwe who suffers from cerebral palsy.
“My aim when I’m running is to stay as relaxed as I can and then focus on my posture.” The wheelchair basketball team fared better in their second match, despite going down to 74-50 to Spain.
“It was a tough match because Spain are much more experienced than we are,” said South Africa’s captain Marcus Retief.
“We did come back though, in the second half, with better defence, more man-to-man, and this made a difference.
“In the end, the score wasn’t too bad because, at one point, it looked as though it was going to be much worse.” Retief said realistically, with South Africa being ranked 12th in the competition, they were not expecting to medal.
“Our goal is to get sixth position after finishing ninth in Beijing,”Retief said.
“Our next game is on Saturday against USA, which will be another tough game. We will have to play hard against them if we hope to win.” Equestrian Philippa Johnson and her horse Lord Louis were ranked 10th for Sunday’s Grade IV final after competing in the team and individual tests.
“I’m aware of the pressure and the expectations South Africans have for me achieving a medal,” Johnson said.
“But I have big shoulders and can carry the pressure.
“Unfortunately, I made too many mistakes today because my horse had an adverse reaction to the sandbags, but he was cool as a cucumber considering this is his international debut.” Earlier, 19-year-old sprinter Anrune Liebenberg recorded her personal best and set a new African record in the women’s 200m T46 heat, qualifying for the final in 25.79 seconds.
Failing to qualify for their respective finals, but both setting new African records on Friday were swimmers Renette Bloem and Shireen Sapiro.
Bloem swam 1:12.72 in the women’s 100m freestyle S11 heat while Sapiro completed her 50m freestyle S9 heat in 30.87 seconds.
Kevin Paul also set a new African record in the men’s 50m freestyle S10 heat, in 25.49 seconds, but failed to make the final.
Chenelle van Zyl was sixth overall in the women’s discus throw F35/36 final, achieving 24.57 points in what turned out to be a controversial points system resulting in the wrong athletes being awarded medals.
The situation was rectified while the local organising committee had to issue apologies.
Cyclist Jaco Nel was hoping for better in his individual C2 pursuit but finished 10th in 4:12.794. Only four cyclists go through to the final round.
Hoping to emulate Bridgitte Hartley’s rowing performance in the Olympics, Sandra Khumalo went through to the repechage of the women’s single scull ASW1x, completing her race in 6:02.38.