Beijing - Kevin Paul slashed more than four seconds from his personal best time on Wednesday on his way to winning a gold medal for the 100m breaststroke SB9 in the Beijing Paralympics.
The 17-year-old Grey High School pupil broke his own world record - set in the morning heats - when he won the final in 1:08.58 and his face mirrored his disbelief as he saw the scoreboard showing the time.
"I started this morning with a 1:12 personal best," he said after the race, "and I couldn't believe it when I saw the time for the heat. I was hoping for a 1:10," he said.
But he had taken more that two seconds off the old mark of 1:10.85, and then he shaved a further 12 hundredths off the new mark in the final as he beat local hero Lin Furong into second by exactly a second, with former world record-holder Dimitry Polin of Russia 3.16 seconds behind in fifth.
Paul started easily and let Lin and Denis Dorogaev of Russia dictate the pace on either side of him: "My coach and I had a game plan and I wasn't concerned when I saw I was only third at the turn," he said.
He eased into the lead with 25m to go, and was never in any danger of losing as he pulled away from the opposition.
In the other swimming final involving a South African, Charl Bouwer followed up his gold medal in the 400m freestyle with a sixth-place finish in the 100m freestyle S13.
His languid stroke clearly marks him as a 400m man, and his 54.99 was well behind the new world record 53.37 by Charalampos Tiaganidis of Greece.
His 4:14.02 world record in the 400m freestyle has persuaded him to explore the possibility of swimming with able-bodied athletes. "It will take a lot of sweat and tears, but I have talked with Scott Field, swimming manager of the Paralympic team, and a former Paralympian himself, and I think I'll give it a shot," he said.
Paul's gold was supplemented by a bronze in cycling when Gavin Kilpatrick and Michael Thomson defeated the Japanese duo of Tatsuyuki Oshiro and Hitoshi Takahashi in the men's sprint for blind and vision-impaired cyclists. Thomson is Kilpatrick's "guide".