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05 June 2019 | Story Ruan Bruwer
Louzanne Coetzee
Athlete Louzanne Coetzee with the trophy of the Free State Sports Association for the Physically Disabled as Sports Star of the Year.

Although challenging, very exciting and a new journey, says Louzanne Coetzee about the athletics year for which she has been recognised.

The 26-year-old, who is doing her master’s in Social Cohesion and Reconciliation Studies at the University of the Free State, won the Free State Sports Association for the Physically Disabled (FSSAPD) Sports Star of the Year award for a fourth consecutive time. This was for the period June 2018 to April 2019.

In that time, she set a world record, an Africa record, and ran two marathons in which she came amazingly close to a second world record.

Only in her second marathon at the Berlin Marathon in September, the Paralympian fell 26 seconds short of the T11 (totally blind) world record time. She met the qualifying time for the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo during the London Marathon in April.

“Marathons are definitely challenging and a new field for me, but I would say it has been a good 12 months. My aim is now set on next year’s Paralympic Games, where I would like to compete in the marathon and the 1 500 m.”

“I hope to run a good time in the 1 500 m at the World Para Athletics Championships in November.”

At the SASAPD National Championships for physically disabled and visually impaired athletes in April 2019, Coetzee won three gold medals and set a record in the 1 500 m. 

Others from the UFS also honoured

Coetzee has received several awards in her career, but says it is always special to be rewarded by her own federation (FSSAPD). 

Danie Breitenbach (T11) was also honoured as the Senior Male Sports Star. He bagged two gold medals and one silver and set a SA record in both the 800 m and 1 500 m at the nationals. Another Kovsie, Dineo Mokhosoa (F36 – coordination impairments), received a merit award for her gold medal in shot-put and silver in the discus at the national champs.

News Archive

UFS receives R13,7 Million for Research into Prehistoric Organisms
2007-03-27

Some of the guests attending the launch of the research contract are: Dr Siyabulela Ntutela (Deputy Director: Biotechnology at the Department of Science and Technology), Dr Godfrey Netswera (Manager of Thuthuka and the Support Programme at the National Research Foundation (NRF)), Dr Esta van Heerden (Platform Manager and lecturer at the Department of Microbial, Biochemical and Food Biotechnology at the UFS), Mr Butana Mboniswa (Chief Executive Officer of BioPAD), and Mr Vuyisele Phehani (Portfolio Manager for BioPAD).
Photo: Leonie Bolleurs

The University of the Free State (UFS) has been awarded a massive R13,7 million contract to conduct research into prehistoric micro-organisms which live under extreme conditions, for example in mineshafts.

This is one of the biggest research contracts awarded to the UFS in recent years.

The biotechnology research contract was awarded to the UFS by BioPAD, a South African biotechnology company that brokers partnerships between researchers, entrepreneurs, business, government and other stakeholders to promote innovation and create sustainable biotechnology businesses.

The project is endorsed by the Department of Science and Technology and the National Research Foundation (NRF), which contributes to the bursaries of the 17 postgraduate students on the programme.

The contract involves the establishment of a Platform for Metagenomics -  a technique which allows researchers to extract the DNA from microbes in their natural environment and investigate it in a laboratory. 

“Through this platform we will be able to understand deepmine microbial populations
and their potential application in the search for life in outer space.  It is most likely
that, if life were to be found on other planets in our solar system, it would probably
resemble that which existed millions of years ago on earth.  Apart from all this, these
organisms have unique properties one can exploit in biotechnological application for
South Africa and its community,” said Dr Esta van Heerden, platform manager and
lecturer at the UFS Department of Microbial, Biochemical and Food Biotechnology.
She is assisted by her collegues, Prof. Derek Litthauer and Dr Lizelle Piater.

“The platform aims to tap into the unique genetic material in South African mines
which will lead to the discovery of new genes and their products.  These new and unique products will find application in the medical field (anti-cancer, anti-bacterial en anti-viral cures), the industrial sector (nanotechnology, commercial washing agents and the food industry), environmental sector (pollution management, demolition of harmful metals and other toxic waste),” said Dr Van Heerden.

According to Dr Van Heerden, the Metagenomics Platforms stems from the Life in
Extreme Environments (LExEN) programme which was started in 1994 by Princeton
University in the United States of America (USA) in South African mines with grants
from among others the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and
the National Science Foundation (NSF) in the USA.  Other international collaborators
on the project include Geosynec Consultants Inc. (USA), Oak Ridge National
Laboratory (USA), the University of Tennessee (USA) and in South Africa the
Universities of the Witwatersrand, North West and Limpopo and companies like BHP
Billiton, MINTEK and mining companies like Harmony, Gold Fields and AngloGold
Ashanti.

The research field laboratory of the Metagenomics Platform, which was situated in
Glen Harvey, was moved to the Main Campus of the UFS in Bloemfontein.  “In this
way the university has become the central hub for all research programmes.  We are
also the liaison between the LExEN programme and the various mining companies
involved,” said Dr Van Heerden.  The new laboratory was introduced during the
launch of the research contract.

“Our decision to commit BioPAD to this project stems from the company’s commitment to advance human capacity development to strengthen South Africa’s research infrastructure.  It is also part of our aim to create and protect intellectual property,” said Mr Butana Mboniswa, Chief Executive Officer of BioPAD.

Talking on behalf of the UFS senior management, Prof. Teuns Verschoor, Vice-Rector
of Academic Operations, said that the university shares the excitement to be part of
the exploration of unknown forms of life, the discovery of new genes and
their products and in applying newly gained knowledge to better understand our
universe.

Media release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Assistant Director: Media Liaison 
Tel: 051 401 2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: loaderl@ufs.ac.za
27 March 2007

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