Team South Africa had their second double-gold day of the Rio Paralympics on Thursday as first Ernst van Dyk then Reinhardt Hamman won their events.
Van Dyk, who raced to fifth spot in the H5 time trial, pulled the rabbit out of the hat to win the men’s road race over 60 kilometres in a fabulous race which saw all three medallists being credited with the same time of 1hr 37min 49sec.
A little later in the day it was 2015 javelin world champion Reinhardt Hamman who fulfilled his rich potential by winning the F38 division. It’s a huge feather in his cap for Van Dyk to get the better of former Formula One racer Allessandro.
As he said: ’I worked out early on that you had to be first through that final corner. ‘Then suddenly one guy crashed and everyone let me go to the front and I just stayed there! Earlier I saw Alex go round that corner on two wheels and knew that he’d have to be a bit careful so I just went for it and got some great acceleration and that was it.
‘No better way to end my hand cycling career than at the Paralympics. My last gold was in Beijing and it’s been a crazy, crazy eight years. ‘So happy that it all worked out and now I’m looking forward to enjoying the marathons.’
As for Hamman, he launched the spear to a personal best of 50.96 metres, a huge improvement of 74 centimetres. This was a win that was dedicated immediately to his late dad Louis who passed away in March this year.
‘I went into this competition saying that I wanted to earn the medal not like Doha at World Championships when I kind of expected it.
‘My knee was a bit sore and I nearly stopped halfway but the thought of my dad screaming in my ear kept me going. I am sharing a room with two medallists, now there’s another one… wow that floor is going to cave in!
‘As for the actual competition, I kind of knew from the fifth round my my nerves were boiling over and when the Colombian guy threw I didn’t know whether to throw, or walk over the line or fall down flat and that last throw was just overwhelming.
‘I seem to be setting a bit of a trend now, keeping my best to last. That throw is going to be hard to beat but one thing I know is that World Champs next year are going to be a blast.’ J
Thursday’s two gold sees Team South Africa jumping eight spots from 27th to 19th and the day’s action was not done yet… the rainbow nation now have 11 medals with three days of competition remaining.