Wesley Botton

By Wesley Botton

Chief sports journalist

Blind athlete Louzanne Coetzee targets podium at Paralympic Games

Coetzee is targeting personal bests and medals in Paris.

Returning to the Paralympic Games, visually impaired athlete Louzanne Coetzee believes she can step on the podium again, as long as she sticks to her plan in the build-up to the 2024 showpiece in Paris.

At the Tokyo Games in 2021, Coetzee earned two of South Africa’s six medals in the athletics competition, grabbing silver in the T11 1500m and bronze in the T12 marathon where she set a world record of 3:11:13 in her class.

Again showcasing her ability at the highest level, the 30-year-old athlete went on to grab another silver medal in the 1500m at last year’s World Para Athletics Championships in Paris.

And after putting in a 16-week block of base training, she opened her 2024 international season by taking third place in the metric mile at the World Para Athletics Grand Prix in Dubai last week.

Despite finishing a shade outside five minutes (5:00.46) Coetzee said she had achieved her main goal in Dubai by giving her regular road running guide, Claus Kempen, a chance to race with her on the track.

As a precautionary measure, Coetzee hoped a few competitions for Kempen on the track circuit this year would allow him to fill in for her regular track guide Estean Badenhorst, and vice versa, if required at the Paralympic Games.

Valuable experience

“I had done a lot of base training going into last week’s race, and a lot of mileage, so I wasn’t expecting to run super fast,” said Coetzee, who was hoping to race at a few more Grand Prix track meetings this year with the support of Profmed, as part of its Path2Paris campaign.

“It’s always good to get some racing in and it gave Claus a chance to get some experience racing on the track at that level as well.”

Looking ahead, Coetzee said she was targeting personal bests in the 1500m and the marathon in the French capital in September.

If she could achieve this goal, she believed she would be challenging for Paralympic medals again.

“I would love to run personal bests in both events in Paris,” she said.

“It’s every athlete’s dream to win gold, but I think if I just focus on running my fastest times, the medals will come.”

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