Swimmers Kevin Paul and Sarah Shannon were the only South Africans to make it to finals on Monday in the Paralympics in Beijing as Team South Africa’s participation started tailing off.
With 17 gold medals already in the kitty, this is hardly bad news, and three sprinters made it to finals scheduled for Tuesday in the Bird’s Nest athletics stadium too.
Jonathan Ntutu in the T13, Hilton Langenhoven in the T12 and Fanie van der Merwe in the T37 category all reached their finals in their 200m sprints.
Van der Merwe was the most impressive of those, dominating in a Paralympic record 24.04, and he looks almost certain to add the 200m gold to the 100 gold he already owns.
Langenhoven, so impressive in winning the pentathlon gold, was the fastest semi-finalist in his event, his 22.06 comfortably out-qualifying American rival Josiah Jamison who clocked 22.19.
He will have a real battle with Jamison in the final. Ntutu will battle a bit more: He clocked 22.71 behind the world record 21.81 of Ireland’s Jason Smyth.
Smyth already has the 100m gold, but a good run by the 22-year-old Ntutu could see him get close to a medal.
In the pool, the 17-year-old Paul is going to battle with his groin injury, sustained in his fine gold in the 100m breaststroke.
He qualified seventh-fastest for the final which will be dominated by Robert Welborn of Great Britain.
Shannon has reached her first final, and the swimmer with cerebral palsy will be thrilled with that, even though she is only the sixth-fastest qualifier.
Lanky Charl Bouwer missed out on qualifying for the 50m freestyle in the visually-impaired S13 category, but, at 18, he is already one of the success stories of the games with his 400m freestyle gold and world record in that event.
Swimming – Men’s 400m freestyle S10 Kevin Paul 5th in heat 1 of 2 in 4:27.57, advanced to final; Women’s 50m backstroke S3 Sarah Shannon 4th in heat 2 of 2 in 1:14.24, advanced to final; Men’s 50m freestyle S13 Charl Bouwer 4th in heat 2 of 3 in 25.41, did not advance to final. Athletics – Men’s 200m T13 Jonathan Ntutu 3rd in heat 1 of 2 in 22.71, advanced to final; Men’s 200m T12 Hilton Langenhoven 1st in semi-final 2 of 3 in 22.06, advanced to final; Men’s 200m T37 Fanie van der Merwe 1st in heat 1 of 2 in 24.04 (Paralympic record), advanced to final.