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.
“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.
“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.
That. Was. Special!!! 😭![CDATA]>🇿![CDATA]>🇦❤️🔥 pic.twitter.com/EfVOnwNuoh— Team South Africa (@TeamSA2020) September 5, 2021
“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.”
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!”