Alani Ferreira. (Photo by Wessel Oosthuizen/Gallo Images)
Three African records were broken by Team SA members at the
Tokyo Paralympics on Friday.
The official Team SA website reports that sprinter Sheryl James produced the
race of her life to finish second in her 200m (T37) heat in a South African and
African record 27.73sec, with each of the two heats seeing the Paralympic
record fall as well.
A sign of how quick the athletes are going in Tokyo can be
seen by the fact that James was some 0.65 seconds faster than the previous
Paralympic record of 28.42 that had stood for 21 years, having been held by
Australia’s Lisa Macintosh. China’s Xiaoyan Wen will be the strong favourite to
win the gold medal later on Friday, but the 35-year-old South African has medal
claims of her own.
Also in finals action later on Friday will be swimmer
Christian Sadie, who also set a South African and African record in qualifying
sixth fastest overall. He led through halfway of the men’s 200m IM (SM7) and
touched the wall in 2:36.75. The third fastest qualifier was 2.40 seconds
quicker than him this morning.
Alani Ferreira became the third Team SA member to break a
national and African record on Friday, but her 5:02.42 in the women’s 400m
freestyle (S13) wasn’t enough to see her into the final.
Elsewhere, there was only one final
in the morning session involving a South African, and men’s F38 javelin
thrower Reinhard Hamman finished sixth with a best throw of 52.49m. It was his
best performance of the season but it was a strong field.
The world record holder, Australia’s Corey Anderson, and the
Paralympic record holder, Ukraine’s Oleksandr Doroshenko, could only finish
fourth and fifth, as Colombia’s Jose Lemos Rivas sent the spear 60.31m on his
first attempt, breaking Anderson’s world record by 2.13m.
Hamman had won the gold medal at the 2016 Rio
Paralympics with 50.96m, but there was to be no repeat performance in Tokyo Friday.
Although Hamman was consistent, with throws of 51.13m, 51.48m, 50.24m, 52.24m,
52.49m and 50.78m, he was always lying just outside of the medals, especially
after Lemos Rivas had opened with the best throw in F38 history.
Another Team SA gold medallist from Rio 2016, men’s T37
champion Charl du Toit, was also involved in a race where the world record
fell. American Nick Mayhugh became the first T37 sprinter in history to dip
under 11 seconds with a scorching 10.97 in the same heat, with Du Toit finishing
fifth. However, his 11.58 was enough to secure him the last remaining
qualifying spot for Friday’s final where he has a chance to add to his
Paralympic gold from five years ago.