Sunday (11 September) track action produced four more medals for the South African team competing at the 2016 Summer Paralympics taking place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (7-18 September).

In the 100 meter T37 final, world and Paralympic record holder, Charl du Toit dashed to gold in 11.45 seconds followed by Egypt’s Mostafa Mohamed (11.54s) who pipped South Africa’s Fanie van Merwe (11.54) into bronze position.

“It is a wonderful feeling to win gold for South Africa, words cannot really express how I am feeling right now but I am grateful for the chance to make my country proud doing what I love,” said du Toit after the race.

The final was the last time that three-time Paralympic champion, Fanie van der Merwe will compete on the athletics circuit. “It is a privilege to end my athletics career with a podium in Rio. I had a great race, am happy with my result and so happy for Charl,” said van der Merwe.

Only ten minutes later, Stellenbosch’s Ilse Carstens (nee Hayes) added silver in a season’s best of 11.91 behind Leilia Adzhametova from the Ukraine who set a new world and Paralympic mark clocking 11.79 seconds. Bronze went to American Kym Crosby (12.24s).

“I am grateful for the silver. I gave it my best and had fun out there, all credit to the Ukrainian she is an amazing athlete,” said Carstens.

Next up, fourteen year old Ntando Mahlangu stunned spectators by winning silver in a new African record time of 23.77 seconds hot on the heels of defending Paralympic champion, Richard Whitehead from Great Britain. Whitehead won the race clocking 23.39 to retain his title with bronze going to David Henson (24.74s) also from Great Britain.

Mahlangu, who is an ambassador for the Jumping Kids Foundation; a non-profit organization that provides access to prosthetic equipment for children living with lower limb amputations; created quite a stir on the local athletics scene this year.

In preparation for Rio, Jumping Kids fitted Mahlangu with a ‘special’ set of running prostheses which carry the names of people who have contributed to his four-year journey.

“It takes a lot of people working together for a common goal, and believing in that goal, to affect the transformation of a child living with a physical disability. When we first met Ntando, he was in a wheelchair, overweight and in a special-needs school. Providing him with prostheses, along with the necessary physiotherapy, opened up a whole new world. He now attends a mainstream school and is very popular with everybody who meets him. Access to the equipment is only the starting point for children like him,” says Jumping Kids founder, Johan Snyders.

Rounding things off for South Africa on the day was T44 sprinter Arnu Fourie. Fourie ended fifth in the 200m T43/44 mixed class heats running a 22.67 which was not enough to get him into the final.

Field action starts today for South Africa with Durban’s Tyrone Pillay, also a Jumping Kids ambassador, competing in the shot put F42 final. He is joined by Liezel Gouws (400m T37 heats) and Dyan Buis (100m T38 heats) on day five of the competition.

Written by: Liezel van Rensburg / Photo credit: Martin Potgieter