Men’s relay team take SA’s fourth gold in record time
LONDON — The South African men’s 4x100m relay team gave South Africa their fourth gold medal and set a new world record in 41.78 seconds at the Paralympic Games in London on Wednesday night.
Samkelo Radebe, Zivan Smith, Arnu Fourie and Oscar Pistorius set the stadium alight as they exchanged batons — in the form of an arm tap — first in each leg of the race.
Brazil’s Alan Oliveira was close to catching Pistorius on the line but the Pistorius determination won through in the end.
"Our team remained calm before the race and we each knew what we had to do," Pistorius said after the race.
"We came out here to break the world record and we smashed it.
"It makes me proud to be a part of this team with these guys tonight."
As it turned out, the Brazilians were disqualified for not touching the baton within the takeover zone, as were the Americans for running out of their lane.
That meant China’s team jumped up to second place in 42.98, while Germany celebrated as they too moved into the medals with their time of 45.23.
The last event of the evening saw Teboho Mokgalagadi come second in his heat to qualify for the men’s 200m T42/46 final in 27.37 seconds.
His time was sixth best overall after adjustments for the different classifications.
Earlier, Pistorius and Fourie stormed home in their different heats to qualify for the men’s 100m T44 track final, in times of 11.18 and 11.29 respectively.
Only Britain’s Jonnie Peacock ran a better time, setting a personal best of 11.08. Peacock’s heat included US sprinter Jerome Singleton (11.46) and Oliveira, the Brazilian winner of the 200m final last Sunday, who clocked 11.56.
Americans Blake Leeper, who ran second to Pistorius in 11.34, and Richard Browne, who came in behind Fourie, in 11.33, together with China’s Zhiming Liu (11.84) make up the numbers for Thursday’s final.
Dyan Buis won the bronze medal in the men’s F38 long jump, to accompany his silver in the men’s T38 100m, and set a new world record in his class with a leap of 6.48m.
"I came here wanting to break the world record so I was so happy when I got it," Buis said.
"I felt it in the air because everything was in sequence and I knew it was a great jump.
Although Buis had the best jump of the night, he was competing against F37 classified athletes and the points system adjusted the distances accordingly.
"I’m happy that I’m the best in my class and I still got a medal for my country and that’s something to be proud about," he said.
"It’s the first time I’ve competed at a Paralympics and I’m first in the F38 class so that’s what counts.
"Riversdale (his home town in the southern Cape) has gone crazy and I’m so glad to keep them on a high.
"I’ve no idea what to expect when I get home but I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen."
His medal takes South Africa’s tally to 17 — four gold, five silver and eight bronze.
Also competing in the long jump F37/38 event was 19-year-old Andrea Dalle Ave, who finished fifth with a personal best and South African record leap of 6.02m in his F37 category.
"I’m very happy with my result and I think there’s a lot more to come from me," Dalle Ave said.
"It is so inspiring looking around at the faces in the huge crowd — and the noise which resonates when there is a British athlete competing also elevates you."
Union Sekailwe, who won a bronze medal in the 400m, failed to progress past round three of the long jump.
Zanele Situ just missed out on a medal in the women’s javelin F54/55/56, finishing fourth with a best throw of 16.22m.
The event was won by Liwan Yang with a world record heave of 17.89m.
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