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03 July 2018 | in NUSF News, Athletics

More Records for Louzanne Coetzee, a history-making South Africa star


The records keep tumbling for talented visually-impaired South African runner Louzanne Coetzee, who dominated proceedings at the recently concluded World Para Athletics Grand Prix meet held in Berlin over the weekend.


The 24-year-old, who is studying a Master’s Degree in Social Cohesion and Reconciliation Studies at the University of the Free State in South Africa, made headlines in April this year when she became the first visually impaired athlete to compete at the FISU World University Cross Country Championship in Switzerland. The inspiring runner came 61st of 62 runners in her event, yet gained valuable experience as well as the respect of many in her sport.


Picture credits: South African Sports Association for Physically Disabled

Coetzee, who lost all her sight to a genetic disorder called Leber’s Amaurosis, has been back in full training since, culminating in her record-breaking feat on the track over the weekend.


The South African competed in three events – the 800m, 1500m and 5000m – at the Para Athletics event in the German capital, and was in the form of her life alongside her guide runner Xavier Adams as she set a new African record in the T11 800m race, taking the silver medal behind Mexico’s Monica Rodriquez Saavedra, before taking a remarkable 13.97 seconds off her own T11 5000m time to smash her own world record in that event, which she ran unrivalled on the track.


An ecstatic Coetzee says she’s thrilled with her times, having trained hard over the last few months to be at her peak for the event.


“I ran three races here, and had prepared for all three,” she told FISU from Germany. “I was confident coming here that I could run good times as I’m quite fit. It feels awesome to have the African record in the 800m as it’s something I’ve wanted for a long time. I’ve been looking forward to breaking that record as it’s a record I’ve been targeting for a year-and-a-half now, so I’m glad I could finally break it."


“I then ran a good 5000m and broke the world record, which was an awesome race for me. It was really an amazing competition, and I can only be thankful to God for protecting and supporting me. It’s been amazing.”


Picture credits: South African Sports Association for Physically Disabled


There’s no rest following Coetzee’s achievement however, as she’s already gearing up for her next challenge – attempting an arduous 42,2km at the Berlin Marathon in September, her second attempt at one of the longest road-running events.


“Next up for me is the Berlin Marathon in September, if all goes well and according to plan,” she reveals. “I’m really looking forward to doing that, as it’s only my second attempt at a marathon. I like the longer distances, and there might be a chance of doing a marathon in Tokyo 2020.”


With the Paralympic Games in two years’ time firmly in her sights, there’s no stopping the determined athlete who has refused to let her disability stand in the way of achieving her athletic dreams.


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