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Teboho takes 3rd gold

Bloemfontein’s Teboho Mokgalagadi took his third gold in as many days on Wednesday when he won the 400-metre T35 race in a South African record time at the Nedbank National Championships for Physically Disabled in Rustenburg.

The 27-year-old set the track at Olympia Park Stadium alight when he shaved a huge 19 seconds off his previous record, covering the distance in a fast 1:04.45 and finishing just a fraction over three seconds off the current world record.

ÔÇ£I’ve never left the championships without setting a record,ÔÇØ said Mokgalagadi, who also won gold in the 100m and 200m. ÔÇ£I ran qualifying times in the 100m and 200m but I wanted a record, so I turned my focus to the 400mÔÇØ

In January, the Paralympian won gold in the both short distances at the IPC World Championships in New Zealand. It was there that 400m caught his eye. ÔÇ£I was watching the guys in my class run and it struck me that they were not running all that fast. So I decided that I would work on a few things when I came back and see how it went here this week.ÔÇØ

Now the Free State sprinter is determined to take the 400m as his third event to the Paralympics in London next year. ÔÇ£For the last part of the race, I had a feeling that I could do it,ÔÇØ he said. ÔÇ£I felt really strong over the last stretch. There are some things I will have to improve on, though. I realised I was too slow on the start. I need to work on more stability, more speed and endurance. I need more power in my upper body. There’s a lot to do, but I’m determined now that I’ve done it.ÔÇØ

And Mokgalagadi’s joy was given a further boost when he combined with Western Province’s Fanie van der Merwe (T37), Dyan Buis (T38) and Mens 20 runner Andrea Della Ave (T37) CC to speed to gold in the combination relays.

Meanwhile nearly 40 South African records were set in the track and field events over the last three days and Paralympian star Oscar Pistorius had the sizeable crowd on its feet in the 400 T43 race when he hit the 300m mark in 33 seconds. The double amputee sprinter comfortably won the 100m T43 in 11.26 on Monday and negotiated the wet track with an imperious 22.71 in the 200m T43 for his second gold on Tuesday morning.

Expecting the Bladerunner to push for an Olympic A-qualification time in the 400m, the crowd was left wanting when the double amputee sprinter slowed down and clocked in at 50.72. Pistorius twisted his knee a little last week when he got out of his car to chase his Jack Russell dog and has been taking it relatively easy to give the niggle time to heal.

ÔÇ£I know everyone expected me to go for it,ÔÇØ said Pistorius, ÔÇ£but I was training last night and this morning. I only needed to run a sub-55 time to qualify and I didn’t feel that I needed to push it.ÔÇØ

Also in the sprints, IPC World Championship silver medallist Anrune Liebenberg got close to the 60sec mark again with a 1:00.15 in the 400m T46 and bronze medallist Fanie van der Merwe ran a 0:55.04 to win the 400m T37 race.

In other athletics events, Maria Kodisang from the Free State bettered the previous SA Women’s 20 Javelin F56 record by more than two metres when she landed a throw of 11.71m and Zandile Nhlapo set a new Women 23 Javelin F34 record with a throw of 13.60.

Meanwhile in the swimming events, held in the Hillcrest pool in Pretoria, Paralympian ace Shireen Sapiro led the gold medal haul with an incredible eight gold medals. The 20-year-old Class S10 swimmer won the 50m freestyle in the first session and pushed her tally to four with the 200m back stroke, 50m butterfly and 100m freestyle in the second session on Tuesday. On Wedneday she completed the 100m back stroke in 1:13.25 to add a fifth medal and pushed her tally to eight with further victories in the 100m butterfly and 400m freestyle.

Back to the athletics events and veteran wheelchair racer Ernst van Dyk finished first in the 56.8km Senior Mens Road Race. The 37-year-old from the Boland, finished in a time of 1:40:46.20.


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