The last of South Africa’s Paralympic athletes are back home from the Tokyo Games. Amongst them was Louzanne Coetzee who won two medals – silver in the T11 1500 metres event and bronze in the T12 marathon. Her return home brings to a close the country’s participation at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Summer Games.
Coetzee had a point to prove in Tokyo after a disappointing 2016 Games in Rio where she was disqualified in the 1500 metres event, her guide was accused of offering assistance in that race in which she finished second in the opening heat of the competition.
The first visually impaired athlete to compete at the World University Cross Country Championships in Switzerland in 2018, the 28-year-old broke two African records in her participation in Tokyo and received the closing medal at the Paralympics. Sharing the glory in her achievements was her guide in the marathon, Claus Kempen.
South Africa’s participation at the 2020 Summer Paralympics in Tokyo consisted of a team of 34 athletes competing in seven sporting codes. It was the smallest delegation since the 1992 Summer Paralympics in Barcelona, Spain, and Team South Africa won seven medals – 4 gold, 1 silver and 2 bronze.
For their valiant efforts, one of Team South Africa’s Olympic sponsors will on Friday gift athletes such as Coetzee, who flew the country’s flag high at both the Olympics and Paramlympic Games, with a reward of between R25 000 and R200 000 each.