Team South Africa’s Paralympic medal chase is off to a golden start after swimmer Kevin Paul powered his way to breaststroke gold in Rio de Janeiro on Thursday night.
The 25-year-old Paul won the SB9 100m event in 1min 04.86sec to win his second Paralympic gold medal after doing the same in Beijing eight years ago.
In London four years ago, Paul had to settle for silver in his keynote event.
Paul, formerly of Port Elizabeth but now training in Pinetown, KwaZulu-Natal with national swimming coach Graham Hill, got off to a great start.
But at the halfway mark he was lying second and Ukraine swimmer Denys Dubrov looked to have stolen a march on the South African. But Paul is noted for his strong finish and that came to the fore as he got up to edge Dubrov into silver (1.05.10).
Earlier Paul had dominated his heat, winning in 1:06.19 to book his place in the final.
“It wasn’t my personal best but tonight was never about time, it was about getting into that pool and getting to the 100m first. I can jump into the pool next week and swim a faster time but it’s not going to get me a Paralympic gold,” said Paul after claiming gold.
“My coach and I discussed this beforehand and it was about going out comfortably and steady.
“Looking back at Beijing and getting on to those blocks as a 17-year-old and getting away with a gold I don’t think I really knew what it meant but I truly appreciate it now and also how much work goes into it.”
Referring to his training group, Paul said: “It’s such a competitive group and you get there at 5am and just see everyone there with the same goal as you. It wasn’t just me in the pool tonight, it was the whole squad, coach and family etc.”
Paul can now take a bit of a breather before his 200 individual medley later in the Games.
credit – sport24