at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
It was mission accomplished for Oscar Pistorius on Tuesday as he won gold in the T44 100m in 11.17 seconds, taking the most difficult step in his quest for three gold medals at the Beijing Paralympics.
"I wouldn't say the rest was easy," he said of the 200m and 400m which lie ahead of him, "but it was just great to be out here, take in the crowd and get the gold medal."
Because he is not the best of starters, it looked as if the race had got away from him, as Jerome Singleton of the United States approached the line beating his chest in triumph.
But the man they call "Blade Runner" for the pair of prosthetics he wears after losing both his lower legs as an infant to a birth defect has a gear that only really kicks in after about 80m, and he came flying past the surprised Singleton.
"I thought I had it won," said Singleton.
Behind him, the other American stumbled and fell at about the 60-metre mark, leaving the way clear for the others to fight over the bronze medallist.
It went to Brian Frasure of the United States in 11.50, 15 hundredths of a second ahead of South Africa's second runner in the field, Arnu Fourie, who clocked a season's best 11.65.
"I love being here. It was just an awesome experience to hear 60 000 people cheering like that," said Fourie.
And also bubbling with enthusiasm for the Paralympic experience was Sarisa Marais. "But it was chaos out there," she said of the American favourite April Holmes who also took a tumble and was disqualified for her troubles as she rolled into another lane.
Marie-Amelie le Fur also fell as Marais ran her season's best 30.41 for sixth.
Earlier at the Bird's Nest, as the National Stadium is fondly known, Zanele Situ had to be content with a ninth place in her F54-56 javelin final, Michael Louwrens with fifth in the F57/58 men's shot put and Chenelle van Zyl with sixth in her F35/36 discus final.
Pistorius will compete in the 200m starting on Thursday, and he completes his campaign in the 400m on Sunday. - Sapa