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Louzanne Coetzee rounds off Paralympics in style with marathon bronze for Team SA

Louzanne Coetzee and her guide Claus Kempen won the bronze medal in the women’s marathon. Lisi Niesner/Reuters

Louzanne Coetzee and her guide Claus Kempen won the bronze medal in the women’s marathon. Lisi Niesner/Reuters

Published Sep 5, 2021

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CAPE TOWN - Louzanne Coetzee had said that she was “not as confident” for the women’s marathon as she was for the 1 500m event, but those doubts were swept away on Sunday when she claimed a bronze medal in the final race of the Tokyo Paralympics.

The 28-year-old had clinched a silver medal in the 1 500m T11 (visual impairment) final on Monday, and said afterwards that she had concentrated on the track event instead of the 42.2km marathon.

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ALSO READ: WATCH: Louzanne Coetzee grabs third SA medal at Paralympics: ’I'm very overwhelmed’

“I’m doing it for the experience, and as an enjoyable event that I did qualify for. Obviously I am aiming for a sub-3:10 (time), and I hope to be able to do that,” she said after the 1 500m race.

Well, she came close to achieving a time of three hours and 10 minutes (3:10:00) on Sunday, finishing third with the assistance of her guide Claus Kempen in a world record for the T11 class of 3:11:13 in a marathon – which was also combined with the T12 class – for Team South Africa’s seventh medal in Tokyo.

Misato Michishita of Japan took the gold in 3:00:50, with Elena Pautova of Russia grabbing the silver in 3:04.16.

ALSO READ: Ntando Mahlangu after second Paralympics gold: ‘I think this is a way to start the weekend!’

“We were in fifth place for a long way, and it was never in my head to move into third. But, I’ve been blessed. A world record in my class, a PB and a medal. I can’t ask for more,” Coetzee said.

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“What makes it so special for me is that it is a mixed class event, and I am running against 12s and 11s. I really didn’t think with the first 30km, where we fifth for a very long time, that it was never a thing in my head that I must move up to third. So, when we got into third position, then I realised this was a possibility.”

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And to top off a memorable day, Coetzee will be the Team SA flag-bearer at the closing ceremony. Asked if she will still have the legs for it, she said: “For sure! I don’t know if Claus is going to cramp!”

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