08 April 2019 | Story Ruan Bruwer
Danie Breitenbach and Oratile Molale
Danie Breitenbach (left) and his guide, Oratile Molale. Breitenbach ran two South African records shortly after each other.

Before the event, he didn’t think it was possible to set two new national track records within 18 hours, but he gained so much confidence after the first win that Danie Breitenbach decided to simply go for it.

With the help of his guide, Oratile Molale, the final-year Law student at the University of the Free State bettered his own South African records in the 800 m (2:05,04) and 1 500 m (4:25.59) in the T11 category (completely blind athletes). This was at the SASAPD National Championships for physically disabled and visually impaired athletes in Stellenbosch. His previous records were set in 2017.

“I struggled with various injuries over a period of two and a half years, during which I never managed to gain my top form. Since January, I was able to train injury-free. I was confident that I could improve on my 800 m record of 2:08,90. Having had such a great first race gave me the confidence to give the 1 500 m record a go the next morning,” Breitenbach (24) said.

With no 800 m event at the Paralympic Games or the World Championships, he is hoping to qualify in the 1 500 m for next year’s Paralympic Games. “I will have to improve on my time, as they are only taking about the top-five in the world. I’m sure I can go quicker with another couple of months of training.”

“I’ve been to a few international events, but these two records will rate among my best achievements. I compete in the 400 m, 800 m, and 1 500 m, but the 800 m is my favourite. I enjoy the balance between speed and endurance.”

Breitenbach was born with limited vision, but at the age of ten became completely blind after suffering a retinal release.