Catch me if you can: Oscar Pistorius sprints away in the 200m final. SA’s Arnu Fourie, far left, was sixth. Jim Bob Bizzell (2120) was second and Casey Tibbs fourth. Picture: AP PHOTO
Three more gold medals move SA up to seventh position on log table. Oscar Pistorius stormed to victory in the 200m in Beijing yesterday to defend his 2004 Paralympic title and win his second gold of the 2008 edition.
The double amputee, known as the Blade Runner, beat the field by nearly a full second as he clocked a Paralympic record of 21.67sec.
That time, although slightly slower than his own 21.58 world mark, was faster than the efforts of several able- bodied competitors at the Olympic Games three weeks ago.
Pistorius got off to a decent start yesterday — unlike in the 100m earlier in the week when he had to bolt from behind to snatch victory on the line — and by the time he came out of the bend yesterday he was well in front.
He finished 0.95s ahead of American Jim Bob Bizzell, whose 22.62 was also inside the previous Paralympic mark. Ian Jones of Great Britain took the bronze in a season’s best 23.00.
Pistorius’s victory was one of three gold medals for South Africa as the team climbed to seventh overall on the medals table, with 15 golds, two silvers and five bronzes.
The other champion performances yesterday came from F12 long jumper Hilton Langenhoven and swimmer Shireen Sapiro in the women’s S10 100m backstroke.
Riaan Nel claimed silver in the mixed road race CP1/CP2 over 24.2km in 48min 5.33sec.
“Running in this stadium is just an amazing experience,” said Pistorius, referring to the incredible atmosphere inside the 91000-seater Bird’s Nest stadium. “I would have to class this as one of my favourite races of my career.”
Bizzell admitted he knew he was beaten when Pistorius overtook him. “Once Oscar passed me, I only wanted to keep on going. I was using him to push myself,” he said.
On Tuesday night, Pistorius will bid to win his third sprint gold of the Paralympics in his favourite 400m, an event he had wanted to compete in at the Olympics, but had fallen short of the qualifying time.
“It’s just a different distance, but I will still be myself,” said Pistorius, who won two medals at the Athens Paralympics in 2004 — gold in the 200m and bronze in the 100m.
Finishing sixth in the 200m behind Pistorius yesterday was countryman Arnu Fourie, clocking a personal best 23.87.
“I have only been running at this level since the beginning of last year. I’m going to work hard for 2012, especially in the 100m, because I think that’s where Oscar can get beaten.”
Langenhoven took his second gold medal in as many days yesterday, winning the F12 long jump in a Paralympic record of 7.31m. He won the pentathlon on Friday evening.
Langenhoven took the lead in the third round with a 7.10m leap, which would have been good enough.
Second-placed Osamah Alshanqiti of Saudi Arabia and bronze medalist Oleg Panyutin of Azerbaijan, the former Paralympic record-holder, shared a distance of 7.06m.
“The guy from Azerbaijan is talented,” said Langenhoven. “Osamah is a new one, but I know he performs really well. Before the competition, I knew those two would be my major opponents.”
Sapiro shared her victory with New Zealand’s Sophie Pascoe in a world record 1min10.57sec.
“That was so close, that was so close,” beamed Sapiro. “This morning I wasn’t sure if I could beat her.
“Actually, I didn’t beat her,” she laughed. Added Pascoe: “We proved we are as good as each other. We are good mates. We are athletes, but athletes must sometimes share as well.”
Today, swimmer Natalie du Toit bids for her fifth gold medal of the Paralympics in the 50m freestyle.
But top American swimmer Erin Popovich, already with four golds, missed out on a chance to finish with six golds, reports AP.
China’s Huang Min beat Popovich in the 50m butterfly final yesterday by nearly 3½ seconds as she clocked a 34.47 world record.
“She just had a better race tonight,” said Popovich.