Kevin Paul returned to the podium at the third successive edition of the Paralympic Games on Thursday night, earning South Africa’s first medal of the Rio showpiece.
The world champion, who had bagged gold at Beijing 2008 and silver at London 2012, stormed to victory in 1:04.86 in the men’s 100m breaststroke SB9 final. Producing a late surge to draw clear, he touched the wall 0.24 ahead of Ukrainian silver medallist Denys Dubrov.
“It wasn’t my personal best, but tonight was never about time,” the 25-year-old Paul, who trains with Olympic star Chad le Clos, told the Sascoc website. “It was about getting into that pool and getting to the 100m first.”
On the track in the late session on day one of the Games, sprinter Arnu Fourie finished second in his 100m T44 heat in 11.19, progressing to the final to be held in the early hours of Saturday morning (SA time).
Compatriot Mpumelelo Mhlongo was fifth in his race in 11.33, and he was eliminated.
Liezel Gouws crossed the line fourth in the women’s 100m T37 heats in 14.88, and though she set a season’s best, there was no place for her in the medal contest.