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Top athletes, swimmers are Brazil-bound

By Mark Etheridge

A squad comprising 13 of our leading athletes and swimmers head are bound for Brazil this weekend.

The occasion is the II Caixa Loterias Athletics and Swimming Open Championships in Sao Paulo and the occasion is a valuable chance for our leading para-sportsmen and women to test their fitness levels following the recent Nedbank Championships for the Physically Disabled in Stellenbosch.

The Brazilian National Paralympic Committee hosts three days of competition on the eight-lane track at the Icaro de Castro Mello Stadium from 24-26 April and athletes across all impairment groups will take part. Swimmers will take part in the Brazil Open gala.

Athletes and swimmers jet off on Saturday and include 11 athletes and just two swimmers in the shape of London Paralympics medallists Kevin Paul and Hendri Herbst.

The athletes include Paralympic medallists Dyan Buis, Ilse Carstens, Hilton Langenhoven, Teboho Mokgalagadi, Jonathan Ntutu, Union Sekailwe and Fanie vd Merwe.

Also there is IPC world javelin champion Reinhardt Hamman, Paralympians Andrea Dalle Ave and Charl du Toit and javeliner Tyrone Pillay.

Accompanying the squad will be coaching staff: Karin Hugo, Pierre de Roubaix, Suzanne Ferreira, Daniel Damon, Raymond Julius and William Banks.

Says Ferreira: “The main aim is to give the athletes some international participation and opportunities for competition. Our Nationals was quite wet and we look forward to improved performances in Brazil.

“Travelling to Brazil will also be an opportunity to develop an idea of how travelling might affect the athletes with the eye on Rio 2016.

Adds Le Roux: “After a successful Senior Nationals competition in Durban last week (7-13 April) both swimmers Hendri Herbst and Kevin Paul will be travelling to Brazil for some International racing.

“The Brazil Open will give both these swimmers an opportunity to hone their skills against major competitors like Andre Brazil (S10) and Matheus Sousa (S11).

“Kevin will take part in four events and must be the favourite to win the 50m and 100m Breaststroke. Hendri will be swimming the Freestyle and Backstroke events and we hope to see some good times from him in especially the 50m Backstroke and 50m Freestyle.

“The II Caixa Loterias Open Championships will be held in five sessions and will consist of straight finals. The final ranking of each event will be calculated according to a formula and the first 10 males and females will receive some prize money. ”

Said Buis, who won three medals in London: “I’m very confident in my overall condition, and the recent performances, particularly the 400m. I’m looking to improve my 400m personal best (PB) in Brazil and also want to try and run my season’s best in the 100m.”

Hamman is also a man with a mission: “I’m super pumped for the IPC Grand Prix and am looking at breaking or smashing the Africa record again and to better my PB in both shotput and javelin. I look forward to be competing on the international stage again as world champion.”

Port Elizabeth’s Paul, along with Herbst, the only swimmer in the group, said: “It’s quite cool and different because we getting to travel together with the athletes.

“That normally only happens for the Paralympics so its going to be nice to see them and catch up again. It looks like a very strong team and there will definitely be a strong atmosphere amongst all of us.

“My nationals last week were good and I’m very happy with my times. I’m looking forward to some fast racing and a lot of training this year. A lot of changes coming soon that I’m really looking forward too.”