London – Oscar Pistorius and his roommate, Arnu Fourie, set new world records in the men's 200 metres T43/44 heats at the London Paralympics on Saturday night.
Double amputee Pistorius, making his first appearance at the disabled Games, clocked 21.30 seconds to improve his own global mark in the T43 division.
Having made history a few weeks earlier as the first Olympic amputee on the track, Pistorius showed his intent early on the Paralympics stage, by comfortably winning his heat and coasting into Sunday's 200m final.
“I don't even know what to say as I would never have guessed that I'd run a world record tonight,” Pistorius said.
“In all my goals I had for the Paralympics, a world record was always going to be a bonus.
“To have my first race tonight as a world record is overwhelming.
“I need to stay focussed and look forward to tomorrow, but if this is an indication of what's to come, then I'm very excited.”
Fellow South African Fourie, a single-leg amputee, qualified for the final by setting a new world best in the T44 division. He finished second in his heat, in 22.57 – 0.34 seconds behind American double-amputee Blake Leeper.
South Africa's first silver medal of the Games came from Teboho Mokgalagadi, running the 100m in the T35 cerebral palsy class in 13.10 seconds.
Iurii Tsaruk from Ukraine won the race in 12.62 and Xinhan Fu from China took the bronze in 13.12.
Visually impaired Jonathan Ntutu bagged a bronze medal in the 100m T13 class, recording a time of 11.03. The gold and silver medals went to Jason Smyth of Ireland in a world record time of 10.46 and Luis Felipe Gutierrez of Cuba in 11.02.
Dyan Buis, who suffers from a mild form of cerebral palsy, bagged another silver medal for the team, in the men's 100m T38 final, in 11.11 seconds Ä a South African record. The gold medal went to Australian Evan O'Hanlon, who won the race in 10.79, and bronze to Wenjun Zhou from China, crossing the line in 11.22.
And Anrune Liebenberg, the only South African woman on the track in the evening session, took the bronze medal in the 200m T46 final.
Cuba's Yunidis Castillo set a world record in 24.45 seconds for the gold medal, while Alicja Fiodorow from Poland won silver in 25.49.
Nineteen year-old Liebenberg set an African record of 25.55.
The excitement on the track came after Charles Bouwer and Achmat Hassiem excelled in the pool earlier in the evening.
Bouwer won the gold medal in the closely contested men's 50m freestyle S13 final in 23.99 seconds. Ihar Boki of Bulgaria finished a fraction of a second behind him in 24.07 with Oleksii Fedyna touching in 24.09.
Single-leg amputee Hassiem bagged the bronze medal in the men's 100m butterfly S10 final.
China's Bozun Yang won the race in a new world of 25.27 seconds.
Hendri Herbst came second in his 50m freestyle S11 heat, setting an African record in 27.02 seconds.
Natalie du Toit finished seventh in the 100m breaststroke SB8
final, completing the race in 1:30.85. The gold medal went to Russia's Olesya Vladykina who set a new world record time of 1:17.17.
Wheelchair tennis player Kgothatso Montjane progressed through to the second round of the women's singles after defeating Lola Ochoa Ribes of Spain 7-5, 6-2.
Evans Maripa also got through to the round of 32 in the men's singles, defeating Iraqi Mohammed Hamdan in straight sets.
Sydwell Mathonsi took Stephen Welch, from the US, to three sets in his singles match.
After going down 2-6 in the first set, Mathonsi fought back to win the second set 7-6 but lost it in the third 1-6.
Cyclist Roxanne Burns rode her 500m time trial in 42.879
seconds, finishing in 11th position out of 14 competitors.
The men's wheelchair basketball team lost their third match on the trot after being thumped by the US 91-29 Ä their biggest defeat so far.
South Africa finished the third day of competition in 16th place in the medals table with two gold, two silver and four bronze medals.
** Sapa's reporter is in London as a guest of the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee. – Sapa