Lesenyeho shines at nationals in Stellenbosch | SASCOC - SASCOC

Lesenyeho shines at nationals in Stellenbosch

Julius Lesenyeho set an African record in the T44 class 800-metre event during the first day of the Nedbank National Championships for Physically Disabled in Stellenbosch on Monday.

Lesenyeho clocked 2min 40.30sec, taking 12 seconds off the previous African record on a day when no other records fell at the prestigious event.

Lesenyeho almost didn’t make it to the Championships after a bout of flu curtailed his training schedule. “The doctor advised me not to run but I felt a bit better at the weekend and I’d trained so hard that I had to come and compete,” Lesenyeho said

“I was disappointed with the time because my personal best is 2min 30 seconds (which was achieved in an unofficial event), but I’m happy with winning the gold medal.”

Earlier reigning world F37/F38 javelin champion Reinhardt Hamman narrowly missed out on an African record in windy conditions while sprinters Fanie van der Merwe, Hilton Langehoven, Jonathan Ntutu and Teboho Mokgalagadi caught the eye in the men’s 200m.

Ilse Hayes, women’s Paralympic long jump F13 gold medalist from London two years ago, recorded a brisk 26.37 to win the T13 200m, the event in which she also earned a Paralympic silver in London.

Hamman, who recently quit his fulltime job at one of Cape Town’s top hotels to concentrate on training, threw 45.64m for a comfortable victory. He fell only eight centimetres short of the African record in testing conditions.

Ntutu, who is a Paralympic bronze medalist in the T13 100m, clocked a respectable 23.08 in his 200m final but was more focused on doing well in the 100m, which starts on Tuesday.

“This is a difficult track because the bend is a lot longer, which makes it technically a more difficult race,” Ntutu said. “But I want to do well in the 100m this year.”

Van der Merwe, who is a T37 100m gold medalist from London, ran 23.86 in Monday’s final, some way off his personal best of 23.1.

“I’m mainly focused on the 100m this year and want to qualify for that event for the Commonwealth Games and I’m on track for that,” Van der Merwe said.

The Championships continue on Tuesday and Wednesday. In all eight disciplines : athletics, swimming, cycling, football, goalball, judo, powerlifting and boccia (similar to bowls), are being staged in venues around Stellenbosch and neighbouring Somerset West.