Beijing - Hilton Langenhoven capped an amazing day for Team South Africa on Friday in the Paralympics athletics stadium in Beijing when he won the men's pentathlon P12 with a world record total of 3401 points.
His gold medal lifted South Africa's haul in the Bird's Nest to three for the day – one of the best days South Africa has ever experienced in international competition.
Fanie van der Merwe set a Paralympic record of 11.83 seconds in the 100m T37 for his gold medal, and Ilse Hayes leapt to 5.68m in the long jump F13 to round out the trio's haul.
Langenhoven led the pentathlon from the opening round, when he jumped 7.24m for 871 points – a distance which was beyond the reach of the best of his competitors and gave him the decisive edge.
Van der Merwe's victory came with a superb surge over the final 30 metres after the local favourite Ma Yuxi of China got off to a great start. “I tensed up in the middle there,” said Van der Merwe, “but I just pushed all the way to the finish and got through.”
He set off on a delighted victory lap waving a South African flag and stopping on the far side of the track at the long jump pit to give Hayes a hug.
Natalie adds another gold medal
In the pool, Natalie du Toit added the women's 400mfreestyle title to the golds she has already won in the 100m butterfly, 100m freestyle and 200m individual medley events.
Du Toit destroyed the field, finishing almost 16 seconds ahead of Canada's Stephanie Dixon in a time of 4 mins 23.81secs.
The 24-year-old, who knocked 0.15secs off her own world record, said: "It was a good race. I gave everything." Du Toit said the 50m freestyle on Sunday would likely be her toughest task.
"It's going to be a head-down-and-go race. Anything can happen but I'm looking forward to it, it's a great challenge."
Du Toit, who finished 16th in the 10km swim in the Olympics last month, is aiming for two more wins to match her gold tally at the 2004 Athens Paralympics.
She is one of only two Paralympians who also competed at the Beijing Olympics, along with Polish teenager Natalia Partyka who won table tennis gold in her class on Wednesday.