Oscar botches baton handover
Oscar Pistorius (Gallo Images)
Durban - The South African Paralympic team's attempt to break their own world record ended in dramatic fashion on Tuesday night as they were disqualified after a botched baton handover in the final leg of the relay.
The relay was the highlight of the second day of the National Championships for the Physically Disabled and both South Africa's "blade runner" Oscar Pistorius and fellow Paralympic athlete Arnu Fourie spoke beforehand of their desire to break the world mark they set in Germiston last month.
But while Samkelo Radebe got off to a blistering start, with Zivan Smith and Arnu Fourie following it up in excellent fashion, the final handover to Pistorius went horribly wrong as Pistorius mistimed his start and left Fourie with more to do, eventually missing the handover with a clearly disappointed Pistorius finishing the race, knowing it would mean a disqualification.
Afterwards Pistorius's coach Ampie Louw said it "was one of those things" and laughed it off, adding that "it was good it happened now and not in London".
"The first three handovers were good, but it was one of those things, Oscar started too early and it wasn't Arnu's fault. Oscar feels very disappointed at the moment, especially because he is part of a team, and he let the team down. As he said, you're never too old to make a mistake," Louw said.
"The time wasn't a problem, but rather it happens now than when we get to London."
Pistorius and Fourie did have better fortunes in their 200m race, with Pistorius pipping Fourie in the sprint, overturning the result from the 100m. Both athletes won their respective classes, with Pistorius winning the T43 (double amputee) and Fourie the T44 (single amputee) category respectively.
Running into a strong 2.4 metre headwind, Pistorius won his race in 23.32 while Fourie came finished in 23.74.
The night also produced some great results, with Paralympic Gold medallist Hilton Langenhoven and Fanie van der Merwe following up their 100m wins with gold in the 200m as well. Langenhoven won the T12 class in 23.22 while Van der Merwe won his race - in category T37 - in 24.83.
A massive highlight earlier in the day was the new South African record set by Zanele Situ, who will be heading to her fourth Paralympics in London, in the category F54 in Javelin. She bettered her previous mark of 16.7 metres to 16.20 metres in the hot and humid conditions.
"I'm more than proud to do that. When you compete you look at the results, I want to get stronger and get better distances. My goal is to do better than I expected at the Paralympics and surprise myself with my performance," Situ said.
The day also saw good performances by Ilse Hayes, who won her event in 26.35 in the 200m (T13) while there were also wins for Teboho Mokgaladi (T35, 28.87).
Earlier, Paralympic swimmers Emily Gray and Charl Bouwer both put in excellent performances in the 100m backstroke finals, winning their respective events.
Gray finished in a credible 1.18.04 while Bouwer, who is looking to replace the Paralympic Gold medal that was stolen in a house robbery a few weeks ago, won his 100m backstroke event in 1.05.79.