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Oscar takes centre stage but two Aussies waiting in the wings
THE return of Oscar Pistorius to the bright lights of the London Olympic Park Stadium will attract a fair bit of world-wide interest on Saturday.
It’s day two of the track-and-field program, but attention will turn to just one athlete when the men’s 200m (T44) racing gets underway.
Australia’s Jack Swift (Vic) will be in the line-up as all eyes turn on the South African, who reached the semi-finals of the individual 400m and the final of the 4x400m relay at the London Olympics three weeks ago.
The double-leg amputee was the first to make the cross-over in athletics between the two Games, although Poland’s Natalia Partyka (table tennis) and fellow South African Natalie du Toit (swimming) competed in both Olympics-Paralympics in Beijing for their respective sports.
Trying to steal a little of the limelight from Pistorius will be Australia’s triple gold medal-winner in Beijing, Evan O’Hanlon (ACT) in the men’s 100m (T38) and current world champion in the women’s javelin (F46) Madie Hogan.
The well-credentialed sprinter is not only the reigning Paralympic champion in this event, but also took the world titles gold in Christchurch last January and lowered the world record in March.
``I’m really excited about Evan starting his program,’’ said Australian team manager Andrew Faichney. ``It’s the event in which he is the world’s fastest so it should be a fantastic run.’’
Coached by the always immaculately-dressed Iryna Dvoskina, another of O’Hanlon’s training partners is trying to create his own niche at his first Paralympics – Scott Reardon (NSW).
``Scotty is also having his first hit-out (200m T42) and I think he’s one of the ones to watch for our whole Games team,’’ Faichney said.
Hogan is trying to convert world championship gold in 2011 in javelin to Paralympic gold in 2012.
``She’s another definite highlight,’’ Faichney said. ``The fact she’s been throwing over 40 metres in training recently makes it a really exciting event to watch.’’
Not that there’s much of Hogan. Her small weight but powerful legs and trunk has earned her the nickname of `pocket rocket’ by her throws coach John Eden.
``She’s certainly a strong thrower and not too dissimilar in size and stature to Kim Mickle, the Olympic thrower and national javelin champion,’’ Faichney said. ``Madie has had a pretty good year so far and hopefully she’s heading for something even better tomorrow.’’
By Margie McDonald