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Fanie and Charl show good form ahead of Commonwealth Games

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Our group of para-athletes are back in South Africa after another successful European campaign, writes Mark Etheridge.

Included among them was two-time Paralympian Fanie van der Merwe who is one of a handful of para-athletes heading for the Commonwealth Games in Scotland with Team South Africa later this month.

And despite the inclement weather at the German national championships in Berlin, he was happy with his form. “I’d really been looking forward to Berlin, but unfortunately it was not what we’d expected! It was a rainy weekend and our times weren’t as expected but I am still grateful for the joy of competing,” Van der Merwe told Road to Rio 2016.

Stellenbosch based Van der Merwe ran his way to gold in the 100m with a time of 12.15, this after going quicker in his semi-final (11.67).

“I’m looking forward to the Commonwealth Games and am privileged to be part of this team. I just want to go do my best and run with the joy of the Lord. I’m not predicting any time for Glasgow but am very much looking forward to the competition.”

Van der Merwe’s training partner and fellow Commonwealth Games-bound athlete, Charl du Toit was also in Berlin. “I got silver in the 100m (12.31sec) and 200m (24.21) and then I won the 400m (54.21). The times were not great on day two (100m final and 400m) but I was very happy on how I finished on the last 30m of both 100m races.

“The highlight of the trip was definitely my 200m on the last day where I was grateful to run a PB in the event.

“So next stop now is Commonwealth and I’m really looking forward to that ÔÇô God is good!”

Also in German action was IPC world javelin champion Reinie Hamman.

“What an amazing trip it was. The week leading up to the competition went well although I had a small scare as I hurt my right ankle on the second day of training which resulted in me not being able to give my all in training.

“But it came right on the day of my first competition. I was scheduled to throw shot put on the Friday evening at 6.50pm. But I arrived at the call room on time and was told that I’d missed my event as it had happened at 4.10pm already!”

Thankfully it was a mistake on the part of the organisers and Hamman was then allowed to throw. The big guy from the Western Cape took full advantage of his second chance.

“I set a new SA record and bettered my distance from the 12:26 in Brazil to a 12:43m which I’m super happy about

“I then did javelin on Saturday and my worst fear was that my ankle would flare upÔǪ and it did. But thanks to coach Karin le Roux, who helped me focus, I managed to win the combined event with 47:22m with a very strong tail wind.”

That was Hamman’s last event for the season but he’s already got his sights set on next season and the IPC Athletics World Championships in Doha, in November. “I’d like to say a huge thanks to SASCOC and the OPEX Programme for giving me and my coaches, Daniel Damon and Karin, the opportunities to go overseas and compete.”

Also in the field events was Tyrone Pillay strutting his stuff for South Africa.

The Durban based athlete took third place in his F42 classification in the shot-put (12.45m) and in the combined F42/44 discus event his 30.84m saw him slot in at sixth spot.

“The standard of competition was really high and you had the top four ranked guys in the world competing. My throw was well below what I’m capable of but given the conditions, it was a good performance for me. All the guys distances were well down on their PBs.

“One of the hardest parts is that we start preparing for our nationals in March and the European guys get into their running from about May. So we have to try and align ourselves with them.”

Unlike Hamman, Pillay’s season might not yet be over. “There might be the London Anniversary Games on 20 July, but I’m still waiting for an invite to that meeting.”


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