Hilton Langenhoven bounced back from track disappointment to grab South Africa’s second gold medal of the Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday.
Langenhoven had been disqualified from the T12 400m semifinal for stepping outside of his lane but a leap of faith saw him go all the way.
He launched himself to a distance of 7.07m with his second attempt and even had the luxury of being able to take his final jump, safe in the knowledge that he had a gold medal in his clutches.
Two centimetres separated silver and gold as Kamil Aliyev, of Azerbaijan, had a best of 7.05 on the night.
Now a veteran of four Paralympics, Langenhoven has had an up and down last two years.
Even at last year’s African Games in Brazzaville, Congo, he was beaten by great mate and fellow Paralympian Jonathan Ntutu in the 200m.
But there was always a plan and he said shortly after the race as he received physiotherapy, that it was all part of a process.
That process worked to perfection and his gold now gives Team SA their second gold and second medal in the games.
“We need to fight to get into this team,” Langenhoven said.
“There are only so many slots and once you are here you do your country proud, your team and your family.
“I cried myself to sleep after the 400m disappointment but I knew I had to pull it together . . . it’s just so amazing to stand on top of the world again. It was so close. In 2012 there was no long jump so athletes focused on other events but now its back.
“I knew one big jump would be able to do it but, remember, there’s only one medal winner. If I knew on Thursday evening that the Lord would give me a medal in the long jump, I would have been happy. “The 400m was my main event and I had put everything into it but I’m just so proud now to do this for everyone.”
Coach Raymond Julius said: “Hilton was emotionally down after his 400m disqualification and it took quite a lot to pick him up again.
“When I saw him this morning he was very positive and managed to bounce back to win gold in the long jump.
“We are very satisfied at this stage and are looking forward to the 200m. Like I said, sometimes good things fall apart so that better things fall together.”
Meanwhile, South African world No 3 quad ace Lucas Sithole continued his remarkable run with a 7-5 6-3 win over Brazil’s Ymanitu Silva in the quarterfinals at Olympic Tennis Centre on Saturday.
He remains on course for a semifinal showdown against top-seed Dylan Alcott from Australia for a place in the Paralympic wheelchair tennis quad singles final.
Sithole, 29, won a gruelling quarterfinal against the Brazilian that lasted an hour and 21 minutes.
The two-time major championships winner was made to work in the first set, but he controlled the second set and sent the Brazilian packing.