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14 Sep 2008 10:56
Ernst van Dyk swapped sports as he went in search of a Paralympic gold medal and his boldness paid off when he won the men’s hand cycling road race on Sunday.
Van Dyk clocked 1,21:40 to pip Alejandro Albor of the United States by a second over 48,4km and, in the process, won South Africa’s 16th gold medal to lift the country to sixth on the medal table.
“I’ve been waiting for this for 16 years, and finally I got a gold medal,” said Van Dyk who added to his two silver and two bronze athletics medals. He took up hand cycling in an attempt to break his golden duck.
He had the close attention of Albor and his US teammate Oz Sanchez throughout the race: “On the last lap, they were following me closely.
They were helping each other,” he said.
Van Dyk is a canny racer, and was ready: “Luckily, I knew they were coming, so I got prepared.
“Winning this race is the biggest thing to me,” he said.
In other action at the Paralympics, Natalie du Toit stayed on course to win five gold medals when she set a Paralympic record in the 50m freestyle S9 in 29,45.
Charl Bouwer was the third-fastest qualifier for the men’s 100m backstroke S13 with his 1:03.76.
On the athletics track, Hilton Langenhoven clocked the same time as favourite Josiah Jameson of the United States in the 200m T12. His 22,20 takes him into the semifinal. - Sapa
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