The Innovation Hub, 14 August 2019 – South Africa’s young track and field athletes achieved a top five overall finish, out of 35 competing nations, at the World Para Athletics Junior Championships that took place from 1-4 August in Nottwil, Switzerland.
The team, consisting of some of the best U17 and U20 male and female Para athletes from across the country, brought home 22 medals; seven gold, 10 silver and five bronze; and set four out of the seven world records obtained at the event.
“It is encouraging to see so many young athletes coming through on the local Para Athletics scene. We look forward to creating more opportunities for our youngsters to compete internationally and I think the future, in terms of development towards the 2024 and 2028 Paralympics, is exciting,” says Team Manager; Johan Snyders.
Paralympian Ntando Mahlangu; one of only two South Africans who participated at the inaugural edition of the event back in 2017; set the pace with a T61 200m world mark (23.03) in the Men U20 T45-64 combined race. He continued to win 400m gold, and 100m bronze in his division.
“It was great to to be part of a big South African team and to meet young Para athletes from across the world. I am happy with my results. It was an honour to serve as team captain and I also enjoyed being a role model to the younger participants coming through,” comments Mahlangu.
In the Men U17 T45-64 division, fourteen year old Puseletso Mabote; who sites Mahlangu as his inspiration; ran to silver and a new T63 200m world record (26.36) on the first day of competition.
The youngster from Johannesburg went on to add silver in the 100m (13.57), bronze in High Jump (1.45), and placed fifth in Long Jump.
Emile Burgers (F64); another athlete who, like Mahlangu and Mabote, has ties with the Jumping Kids Prosthetic Fund; dominated field events in his division winning gold (48.35) in the Men U17 F45-64 Javelin, silver (8.82) in Shot put, and placing fourth (92.91) in Discus.
Javelin silver went to fellow South African; Ewan Kotze (F64) with his best measuring 37.36 meters.
‘Blade-sprinters’ Paul Daniels and Tebogo Mofokeng; who hail from the Western Cape and Gauteng respectively and are themselves Jumping Kids ambassadors; both showed good form in the T62 sprints adding valuable points towards South Africa’s top five finish.
In the T/F 35-38 women’s division, Arina Nicolaisen (T38) clocked 02:35.83 in the 800m final for gold and a new world record while, on the field, Simoné Kruger (F38) set the team’s fourth world mark of the championships in Discus (38.63).
“We are grateful for the opportunity to assist more young athletes to compete at the highest level. This links to our vision that access to prosthetic equipment should translate into access to sport and, ultimately, access to better education and prospects,” concludes Jumping Kids Director; Michael Stevens.
Photo credit: Andries Kruger