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Five medals for Sapiro

Paralympian swimming aces Shireen Sapiro and Achmat Hassien lead the gold medal haul after the first three swimming sessions of the Nedbank National Championships for Physically Disabled.

Sapiro won the 50m freestyle in the first session on Tuesday and pushed her tally to four with the 200 metre backstroke, 50m butterfly and 100m freestyle in the evening session.

In Wednesday morning’s session, the 20-year-old completed the 100m backstroke in 1min 13.25sec to add a fifth medal to her trophy cabinet at the championships.

Despite the podium finishes, the S10 class swimmer is unimpressed with her times. ÔÇ£Of course I’m happy to be medalling, but my times are a little off,ÔÇØ she said. ÔÇ£It’s not all bad news, though, because it’s a good barometer.

ÔÇ£The National Swimming Championships are just two weeks away, so this week is a good measure for me in terms of our standards and times. It gives me a clear understanding of what I still need to work on for nationals.ÔÇØ

As expected, Hassien dominated the S10 class for men. The Sharkman won the 50m, 100m and 800m freestyle and collected his fourth gold in the 50m butterfly when he touched the wall in 27.71 seconds to finish 8.15 seconds ahead of Western Province team mate, Kevin Waller.

Fellow Paralympian Emily Gray won the 50m and 100m Free Style in the S9 class. The 19-year-old was disqualified, though, when she turned through 90 degrees between the breaststroke and backstroke in the women’s 200m Individual Medley.

But Gray put the disappointment behind her and partnered Sapiro, Merzaan Smit and Dimaktso Makgakga to win the 200m medley relay. The Central Gauteng foursome finished in 2:45.07, more than a minute faster than the KwaZulu-Natal combination of Patricia Ings, Wendy van Zyl, Beth Nothling and Nosipho Malinga.

In the Girls 15-16, lanky Tezna Abrahams is well underway to duplicate her eight gold medal haul at last year’s championship this week. The 15-year-old S10 class swimmer from Mafiking won the 50m and 100m free style and the 50m butterfly on Tuesday and underlined her growing Paralympics potential by winning the 200m freestyle┬á and 100m breast stroke on Wednesday morning.

ÔÇ£I’m three down and five to go,ÔÇØ said Abrahams. ÔÇ£I want to medal in all my events in preparation for the National Champs in two weeks. It gives you a mental edge and this year I want to hit the kind of times that will get me on the Paralympic team.ÔÇØ Abrahams will need that drive when she pushes for gold in today’s final session.

She has the 50m stroke (SB 9), as well as the 50m back stroke (SM10) left and is still undecided between the 100m back stroke or butterfly for her eighth and final event.

And it was a good news day for Northern Cape’s Johann van Heerden. The 15-year-old, who set an SA record in the Boys 15-16 backstroke (S10), also completed the S9 breast stroke in a record time of 3:13.2 to improve the previous record by nearly 13 seconds.

Back at the Olympia Park Stadium athletics track in Rustenburg, Paralympian Teboho Mokgalagadi smashed his own 400m SA record in the T35 class. A double gold medallist at recent IPC World Championships in New Zealand, Mokgalagadi had big expectations but failed to set the track alight in the 100m and 200m. ÔÇ£I wasn’t going to leave here this week without a record; it had to be this morning,ÔÇØ he said.

Mokgalagadi clocked in at 1:04.46, shattering his own previous record by 19.04 seconds. ÔÇ£I ran a decent time in New Zealand, so I decided to give it some attention when I got home. I think this will be the third event I take to London.ÔÇØ


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