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Fanie flies into Paralympic 200m final in London
- Updated: August 31, 2012
By Mark Etheridge┬áin London
Defending Paralympic 200-metre track champion Fanie van der Merwe blasted into Friday night’s final with the greatest of ease here.
Van der Merwe ended second in his heat, clocking 23.83 seconds behind Chinese winner Yongbin Lian’s23.78 but the South African clearly eased off the pace in the final 10 metres or so.
“Now I must just give it all my best in the final,” said Van Der Merwe who runs in the T37 class. “It’s a long way off my best time but I felt pretty comfortable.
“Since Beijing my mind is in a much better place and I’m able to stay both relaxed and focused at the the same time.”
Van der Merwe suffers from cerebral palsy meaning that with exertion his body goes into spasms. “I affects the right hand side of my body in the final stages of the race so I must just try and stay relaxed and keep my rhythm and keep upright.”
The Stellenbosch based Van der Merwe’s Paralympic record is 23.84 from Beijing and he set his world record almost a year ago at the All Africa Games in Maputo where he ran 23.10sec.
Van der Merwe was fourth fastest going into Friday night’s final.
Also going through to her final was Anrune Liebenberg. Running the 200m (T46) she blitzed to a personal best and African record 25.79. That was good for second behind Cuban Yunidis Castillo’s 24.81. Liebenberg is second fastest qualifier for Saturdays’ final.
“There were a few nerves, but they were good nerves and it was great to run in this spectacular venue,” said Liebenberg.
She was drawn in the outside lane and got off to an ordinary start but she wasn’t concerned. “My start has never been the best and I always say it’s about the person in the lane, not about the lane.”
Until Friday her best time was the 26.46 that she ran in Germany earlier this year.
Born with a stunted left arm with just partially formed digits after her elbow joint, Liebenberg, as do most of the Paralympics, makes light of her disability.
“I painted a smily face on my hand today, just for fun. I’ve called him Pietie, not sure why but that’s his name!”
The first South African in action in an athletics final was Chenelle van Zyl. She took part in the discus (F35/36 class).
She saved her best effort for last, a 24.57m effort which was good to place her sixth overall from 10 competitors. Four of her throws were over 24 metres.