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06 September 2021 | Story Ruan Bruwer | Photo Gallo Images
Louzanne Coetzee, who won a silver and bronze medal at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo, with her guide Claus Kempen.

Louzanne Coetzee ended a memorable week at the Paralympics in Tokyo with a world record, a bronze medal, another personal best time, and the honour of carrying the SA flag during the closing ceremony.

Coetzee and her guide, Claus Kempen, competed in the women’s mixed class marathon (T11 and T12 for the visually impaired) in rainy conditions on Sunday (05/09). She improved the world record by 1 min 42 sec, and her personal best from 3:13:41 to 3:11:13.

“This is a very special moment for me. I did not go into the race with many expectations; I just wanted to run a personal best. I’ve been doing this sport for eight years, and to get two medals at the Paralympics is a huge blessing. I feel very fortunate to be able to show these medals back home to illustrate that hard work pays off,” Coetzee said.

She is the residence head of Akasia Residence at the University of the Free State. Coetzee studied Marketing and Communication Science and later completed her master’s in Reconciliation and Social Cohesion, with specific focus on students with disabilities in higher education.

Coetzee, who was born blind, also served on the Student Representative Council from 2014 to 2015.
Earlier at the Games, she raced to a silver medal in the women’s 1 500 m (T11) in a new Africa record. She improved her personal best from 4:51.65 before the Games, to 4:40.96 in the final.

The president of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee, Barry Hendricks, said Coetzee has shown incredible spirit and tenacity to become one of the best athletes in her class.

“Louzanne is an inspiration, not only on the track and road. She has an infectious energy and positivity that has spread through the squad.” 

“Winning two medals is a testimony to her hard work and talent, and she has been a stand-out performer and squad member,” he said.

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