Herbst helps himself to Paralympic bronze for SA in London | SASCOC - SASCOC
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Herbst helps himself to Paralympic bronze for SA in London

By Mark Etheridge
in London

Hendri Herbst swam his way to Team South Africa’s second medal of the 2012 Paralympics when he took bronze in the mens’ 100-metre freestyle final (S11 class) here on Friday.

Visually impaired from a very early age, 19-year-old Herbst clocked 59.60sec to add to Natalie du Toit’s gold medal the previous evening in the 100m butterfly (S9).

An elated coach Karin Hugo said afterwards: “We were planning on Hendri coming into his own at the 2016 Games but I’m going to grab this bronze here with both hands.”

As for Herbst. “I think it will take a while to sink in. I wasn’t even thinking about a medal, maybe top five but definitely not a medal.”

“I just paced myself for the first 50m and then went full out for the last lap. Now I’ve got the 50 free, 100 back and 400m freestyle events still to come.”

His time was also a personal best, beating the 60.01 that he swam at nationals in Durban earlier this year.

A second-year student at Stellenbosch University where he is studying socio-infomatica, he has been swimming for about five years now. “I always liked watersports so I guess it was just natural that I’d want to swim competively.”

Shortly before Herbst hit the headlines, Du Toit swam the 100m and like Kevin Paul the previous night, was just one spot from the podium.

She clocked 1min 12.56sec, 0.28sec away from a medal place. Team-mate Emily Gray took seventh in the final with a 1:16.65 finish.

“I’ve never really liked the backstroke, even though I started my career as a backstroker then moved on to butterfly,” said Du Toit afterwards.

“I can see that five weeks of speedwork haven’t really been enough and I’m just taking a while to get going. I haven’t been doing a lot of fly, back and breast so it’s actually quite hard work having to think all the time what you’re doing.”

Said Gray: “I was a bit slower than this morning but the experience was amazing and my main event, the 400m free is still coming so I was happy to get into this final.”

Our final swimmer in evening action, 2008 gold medallist Charl Bouwer ended seventh in the men’s 100m butterfly, clocking 59.39. His main event, the defence of his 400m freestyle title, is later in the competition and Saturday was the second of his six events here in London.

Meanwhile our wheelchair basketballers lost their second match going down 74-50 to Spain after a 93-39 thrashing by Olympic and World Champions Australia on Thursday night.

Double Beijing gold medallist dressage ace Philippa Johnson will be ranked 10th on Lord Louis going into Sunday’s Grade IV final and adaptive rower Sandra Khumalo will row the repechage of the women’s single scull ASW1x after a 6min 02.38 finish out at Eton Dorney on Friday.


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