The 1st Fazaa International Athletics Competition was held in Dubai from 19 to 26 February, 2009. Three South African athletes were invited, Arnu Fourie (T44), “vinnige” Fanie van der Merwe (T37) and veteran strong man, Michael Lourens (F57).
International athletes were warned in advance to expect blistering temperatures in excess of 30 degrees, but perhaps we should have played fair and written back, warning them of our blisteringly hot athletes?
Against a field of approximately 90 international athletes South Africa again showed the world what we can do, running away with 2 gold, two silver and two bronze medals.
Fanie started off the winning streak on Monday winning the T36-T37 100m in just 12,04 seconds. It wasn’t long before he and team coach, Suzanne Ferreira, were cheering on Arnu Fourie in the T42-T44 100m who crossed the line in an incredible 12,02 seconds, hot on the heels of fellow T44 runner, Ian Jones, of Great Britain.
Over at the field events fifty year old Michael managed a shoulder straining 12.53m in the F57-F58 Shot Putt, a mere 2,5 metres short of the winner, Alexey Ashapatov (F58) who is almost fifteen years his junior!
On Tuesday they continued their impressive performances. In the T36-T37 200m Fanie romped home a full 2 seconds ahead of the competition in a time of 24,24 seconds. Arnu ran a steamy 24,4 in the T42-T44 200m only to be beaten into second place again by the Englishman, Ian Jacobs. On the field Michael made the discus throw look easy, managing almost 41 metres, securing himself a third placed victory.
It was a quick, short, and enjoyable outing for the team and an excellent way to get back into competition form. And they need to be fit. After the 2009 Nedbank National Championships at Port Elizabeth in April they have just over a month before they fly off to the British Telecom Paralympic World Cup in Manchester at the end of May.