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London – South Africa stood a good chance of winning further medals on day two of the 2012 London Paralympic Games after six athletes qualified for their event finals on Friday.
With one gold medal already in the bag, Natalie du Toit qualified third fastest for the women’s 100m backstroke S9 final, coming second in her heat in 1:12.52.
Emily Gray will be competing against her after also qualifying for the same event, in 1:15.59.
Charles Bouwer will have to improve substantially on his 59.03 seconds in the final of the men’s 100m butterfly S13 race after he came second in one of the slower heats.
The other athlete in the pool will be Hendri Herbst, who left the swimmers in his wake when he qualified fastest in his 100m freestyle S11 heat, and overall third, in 59.64 seconds.
On the track, Fanie van der Merwe is through to the men’s 200m T37 sprint but was disappointed with his qualifying time of 23.83
“That is far off my personal best but the recovery time now will be crucial,” Van der Merwe said.
“I’ll go for an ice bath and try to relax and give it my all.”
Nineteen-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.
Not to be outdone, 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. He was not too disappointed as he was not expected to qualify for the final and was using the heats as part of his build up to reach peak fitness next week.
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.
Sandra Khumalo, hoping to emulate Bridgitte Hartley’s rowing performance in the Olympics, went through to the repechage of the women’s single scull ASW1x , completing her race in 6:02.38.
The repechage is a further opportunity to qualify for the finals, ranking all the boats in order of performance. The best four boats from the repechage go through to the A final, while the rest will go through to the B final.
Equestrian Philippa Johnson earned 63.125 points on her horse Lord Louis in the Grade IV team test and is still to compete in the individual championship.
On the field, Chenelle van Zyl was sixth overall in the women’s discus throw F35/36 final, throwing a distance of 24.57 metres.
** Sapa's reporter is in London as a guest of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee. – Sapa