Natalie du Toit stayed on course to win five gold medals at the Beijing Paralympics by winning the women`s 200m individual medley Thursday as the Games was hit by more doping offenses.
The South African amputee swimmer clocked 2 min 27.83 sec to grab her third gold in Beijing, shaving more than 2 sec off her own record in her class.
Natalie Du Toit of South Africa swims to win the women`s 200m individual medley SM9 during the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games at the National Aquatics Center in Beijing on September 11, 2008. Natalie Du Toit won with a new world record of 2:27.83. [Agencies]
"I just went out there and had a good race. I just enjoyed it. I felt good in the warm-up, so to get out there and have a good race was a bonus," said du Toit.
Du Toit, who had won the 100m freestyle and 100m butterfly earlier this week, will also take part in the 50m freestyle and the 400m freestyle.
The first female amputee to compete in an able-bodied Olympics, du Toit finished 16th among 25 competitors in the 10km open-water swim last month at the Beijing Olympics.
Meanwhile, China pulled away in the race for most medals, leading the count with 33 gold, 37 silver and 26 bronze. Britain was second with 27-16-14 with the United States third on 18-12-14.
China`s He Junquan, Du Jianping, Yang Yuanrun and Tang Yuan(L-R) pose for photos in the awarding ceremony for men`s 4x50m freestyle 20 pts during the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games at the National Aquatics Center in Beijing, Sept. 11, 2008. China claimed the title and broke the world record of the event with a time of 2 mins 18.15 secs. [Xinhua]
Table tennis players again provided the impetus to China`s gold rush. Feng Panfeng, Chen Gang, Ge Yang and Lei Lina won their respective classes Thursday, bringing the host nation`s total to eight gold in the sport.
But Zhang Xiaoling, a 51-year-old veteran who was seeking her sixth straight Paralympic singles title, failed to live up to her dream and had to settle for a bronze in her class.
The home crowd had more to cheer about at the Bird`s Nest, where Guo Wei (men`s discus throw), Mi Na (women`s shot put) and Qing Suping (women`s javelin throw) earned three gold medals.
Lei Lina of China returns a shot during the women`s individual class 9 gold medal match against her compatriot Liu Meili at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games table tennis event in Beijing, China, Sept. 11, 2008. Lei won the match 3-0 and claimed the title. [Xinhua]
At the Water Cube, the swimming quartet of Du Jianping, Tang Yuan, He Junquan and Yang Yuanrun took the men`s 4x50m freestyle title.
Elsewhere, Chinese pair Zhou Yangjing and Shan Zilong paddled their way to victory in mixed double sculls.
More than 4,000 athletes from 147 countries and regions are competing in 20 sports in five different categories of disability, with a total of 472 gold medals at stake.
More doping cases
Facourou Sissoko of Mali and Liudmyla Osmanova of Ukraine, both powerlifting competitors, have been expelled from the Games after testing positive for steroids, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) said.
German wheelchair basketball player Ahmet Coskun has also been kicked out of the Games as traces of finasteride were found in his urine sample taken on Aug 23.
The German National Paralympic Committee said that although finasteride is a non-performance enhancement medication, it can be used to cover up drugs that do. Coskun, 33, insisted the positive result might have resulted from using a drug for hair loss treatment.
That brought to four the number of athletes caught using illegal substances. Pakistani powerlifter Naveed Ahmed Butt had been banned after failing a doping test on Sept 4.
The IPC said it plans to conduct 1,100 tests at the Sept 6-17 Games. So far, 461 tests, both in and out of competition, have been carried out.