South African swimmer Kelvin Paul has handed Team South Africa its first gold at the Paralympics after participating in the 100 metres breaststroke title in the SB9 category on Thursday.
The 25-year-old’s world record time of 1:04.86 highballed him ahead of Ukraine’s Denys Dubrov and Dutchman’s Duncan van Haaren – who won the third place in the race.
Excited with his performance, Paul said he feels happy to see his hardwork pay off after many months of training. The first South African 2016 Paralympics gold medalist added that he truly appreciates what it means to win a gold and how much work goes into it unlike when he stood on the top step of the podium at the Beijing Paralympics, when he was 17.
Kelvin Paul Happy With Achievement
He said: “I wanted to start things off with a bang for South Africa. We’ve got proud Paralympic history, if you want to call it that, I mean we saw Olympians doing a great job for Team South Africa.
And I knew the minute I saw that and the schedule come out about a year ago, I knew this was great opportunity for me, for the country just to get on that medal tally early and for a gold medal.”
Team SA had a slippery start in the early sessions on the opening day of competition with two athletes progressing and two facing elimination in the early session. But Paul’s victory launched the team back to a state of excitement.
Paul won gold at the Beijing games in 2008. He also smiled home with a silver at the 2012 London Paralympics. The world champion was born with Poland Syndrome – a birth defect that robbed him of pectoral muscles in his left chest. This, subsequently made his left arm a little shorter than his right, for which he compensates by using his shoulder muscles more in his stroke.