The 2017 SASAPD National Athletics Championships, hosted at the Westbourne Oval in Port Elizabeth (April 2 – April 4), produced three world records, nine continent records, and close to 70 national records on track and field.
Participating Rio 2016 Paralympians all clocked world qualifying results in their respective items ahead of the London 2017 World Championships with outstanding performances coming from Louzanne Coetzee, Liezel Gouws and Ntando Mahlangu.
Coetzee, assisted by her guide Khothatso Mokone, clocked 18min 37.23sec in the 5000 meter (T11) item to better her own world record (19:17.06s) set at last year’s National Championships. She continued to set two more SA records in the 1500 and 800 meter races.
“I didn’t think I’d run sub 18:40 so when I ran 18:37 I was very, very happy – quite tired obviously but I had given it my all. I worked very hard during the race and it’s a big privilege to get the record, ’she told SASCOC web-editor, Mark Etheridge.
Gouws, who hails from Klerksdorp and is in Matric this year, clocked 2min 40.39sec for a world mark in the 800m T37 and added another three golden results in the 100, 200 and 400 meter races.
Next up, T42 sprinter Ntando Mahlangu bettered his own world record by dashing to a 52.18sec finish in the 400 meter event. The 15 year old grabbed three more gold in the 100, 200 and 800 meter items.
On the field, Gauteng’s Hermanus Blom (F12) came close to breaking the discus world record (52.51m) by throwing a 50.11 for an Africa record on the final day of athletics. Blom also achieved world qualifying results in shot put and javelin, of which his 12.87 meter heave in shot put is a new Africa record.
More continent best’s came from:
- Megan Croucamp (Gauteng) – Final Girls 16 100m (T42) 19.03s (AR)
- Dineo Mokhosoa (Gauteng) – Final Women 25 Shot Put (F36) 07.94m (AR)
- Jan van Staden (North West Province) – Final Men Javelin (F46) 52.74m (AR)
- Larry Wyngaard (Western Province) – Final Men 25 1500m (T36) 05:37.06s (AR)
- Maria Combrink (Gauteng) – Final Women 25 Shot Put (F44) 09.46m (AR)
- Christiaan Schultz (Gauteng) – Final Men 25 400m (T44) 57.35s (AR)
- Juanelie Meijer (Free State) – Final Women 25 Shot Put (F38) 07.68m (AR)
The event also marked the end of an era for two of South Africa’s most prominent para-athletes.
Ilse Hayes (T13) and Arnu Fourie (T44), competing at their last SASAPD Championships, both set world qualifying times in their respective 100 and 200 meter races – a fitting end to careers spanning 17 and 10 years respectively.
It was announced that a total of 28 male and 10 female athletes qualified for the World Para Athletics Championships in July. With 2017 being the start of a new Paralympic cycle, it will be exciting to see who rises through the ranks to stand out on the Road to Tokyo.
Written by: Liezel van Rensburg
Photographer: Martin Potgieter / Bonzai Photography