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Athletes stake their claim for Rio at nationals in Bloemfontein
- Updated: March 22, 2016
Track and field athletes stole the show on Monday, as the annual Nedbank National Championships for the Physically Disabled got underway with some spectacular performances in Bloemfontein, Free State.
With local and international athletes turning out in various codes on the opening day of competition at the multi-sport event, they made full use of the opportunity to meet the qualifying standards in their respective events for the Rio Paralympics.
Eight South African athletes achieved the required marks in track and field disciplines – Hilton Langenhoven (200m, T12), Ilse Hayes (200m T13), Teboho Mokgalagadi (200m, T35), Ntando Mahlangu (200m, T42), Arnu Fourie (200m, T44, pictured above), Gerrit Kruger (shot put, F37), Tyrone Pillay (shot put, F42), Louzanne Coetzee (1 500m, T11) and Juanelie Meijer (long jump, T38).
Versatile three-time Paralympic champion Langenhoven was perhaps the top performer of the day, recording an A-qualifier in the heats (22.64 seconds) and again in the final (22.85).
Meanwhile, four African records were broken by local athletes, with Mahlangu (200m, T42), Meijer (long jump, T38), Dineo Mokhosoa (long jump, T36) and Hermanus Blom (shot put, F12) all setting continental marks.
In addition, there were a host of athletes who achieved Paralympic B-qualifiers and/or national records, while four performances by visiting Namibian athletes also met the required Paralympic standards.
Meanwhile, in the pool, the nation’s top disabled swimmers also showed their intent with three athletes recording qualifying marks for the Rio Games. Adri Visser (50m butterfly, S5), Emily Gray (400m freestyle, S9) and teenager Alani Ferreira (400m freestyle, S13) all dipped under the required times to be considered for Rio selection.
Mduduzi Sibanda broke the African record in the men’s 200m breaststroke SB7 class, with the 18-year-old swimmer touching the wall in 3:49.00. There were also six SA swimming records that fell in age group races.
The national championships will continue with the second day of competition on Tuesday.