Johannesburg - Arnu Fourie cruised to victory in the 200m (T44) finals at the National Championships for Physically Disabled, in Pretoria, on Monday.
After his heroics at the 2012 London Paralympics, where he won a gold as part of the South African relay team and set a world record in the 200m event, the sprinter took time off to recover and only recently returned to the track to start training.
With the World Championships looming large in Lyon, France, in July, Fourie used the Championships as a springboard to start his countdown to the French finale, and was relatively happy with his run.
Fourie said he loved running in front of his home crowd and would have chosen no other venue to start his preparations.
"It's always good to get the first run out of the way, and it's always a privilege to run here at nationals in front of your home crowd," Fourie said.
"I'm happy with my run, but I'm on a different phase of my preparation. It all builds up to the World Champs in July. It was quite hot when I was warming up, but the weather was great and it was a great run to have."
There was some apprehension before his run, as Fourie was not quite sure what to expect from himself, but despite being pushed all the way by his relay team-mate Samkelo Radebe (who runs in the T45 class), Fourie had enough to hold out in the last 30m.
Fourie said he was happy with his rest after London and was currently working on putting a lot more speed into his start in the sprints, something he hopes will help him reach his goal in Lyon in the highlight of the Paralympic Calendar this year. "After London, we rested for a month or so and then the focus shifts to July. It all is part of the plan to work towards France. You never know what to expect for your first race and I'm happy for now," he said.
"I want to get faster over the first 30m out of the 100m and we've been building on strength and power to get that speed up, but I'm pretty confident we will kick on.
"I'm pretty sure I'll be in top shape come the end of July."
A host of top athletes competed at the Championships on Monday.
There were wins for Paralympic World Record holder Fanie van der Merwe, Paralympic silver medallist Tebogo Mokgalagadi and London 2012 Bronze medallist Jonathan Ntutu, all in the 200m.