Paul primed for Paralympics

Lee-Anne Butler

ACE Port Elizabeth swimmer Kevin Paul, who leaves on Sunday to take part in the Paralympic Games in London, said he has been inspired by his colleagues who have just returned from the Olympics.

Paul, 21, who won a gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics, said the Games were the culmination of four years of hard work since he returned from competing in Beijing.

“How can anyone not be inspired by what Team South Africa achieved? Watching them really motivated me and seeing what they achieved was amazing.

“Even with the athletes that did not win, you could see that they gave it their all, and that is what I intend to do,” he said.

“We’ve all been inspired by what they achieved and hopefully I can also bring honour to my friends, family and country.”

The second-year law student was speaking at a farewell event which was held in his honour at the Old Grey Club in Port Elizabeth last night.

Paul will compete in five events in London, having qualified for the 50m and 100m freestyle, the 400m freestyle and the 200m individual medley.

He will also be defending his gold medal in the 100m breaststroke. Paul holds the world record in the category, which also is his favourite event.

The SA Paralympic team will be staying in the same accommodation as the Olympic team and Paul will be swimming at the same aquatic centre where Cameron van der Burgh and Chad le Clos spectacularly won their medals.

Paul was born with no pectoral muscles in his left chest because of a rare condition known as Poland Syndrome.

He said he had a great team of people supporting him, including his coach, various sponsors, sports therapist and physiotherapist.

Due to his condition, Paul has had to adapt his shoulder rotation. His left arm and hand are smaller than his right side.

Paul said he had trained for an average of five to six hours per day in 16 sessions a week. Training included swimming, running, gym and core exercises.

“I know who my international competition is but I choose to rather focus on myself and to control my own race, rather than to watch what they are doing.”

Eastern Cape athletes Michael Louwrens (shot put) and Duane Strydom (discus) will join Paul in the 62-strong SA squad.

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