[WORLDKINGS] Journey to seek extraordinary record holders around the world (P.85) - Louzanne Coetzee (South Africa): The blind athlete who holds record in WorlPara Athletics Grand Prix.


(WorldKings.org) There is much more to Louzanne Coetzee than meets the eye. Born blind, she was schooled at the Pioneer School for the Visually Impaired in Worcester, away from her home town of Bloemfontein. She was the country’s top matric achiever for people with special needs in 2012, and later studied Communications at the University of the Free State.

In 2014, she became the first visually impaired student to be elected to the UFS Student Representative Council (SRC), with the portfolio Student Accessibility. From 2015 to 2017, she was a research assistant in the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice at the UFS, and in 2016 she also acted as junior lecturer in a computer module for students with visual impairments. From 2017 to 2018, she was Residence Head of Arista Ladies City Residence, and she is currently the Residence Head of Akasia Residence at the UFS. 

This bright spark began religiously training for athletics in 2012, and started participating in the national championships for the disabled in 2013. That year, and in the following 2 years, she won a gold medal at the competition for the 800m sprint among other events.

Whilst participating in the Disabled Athletics Grand Prix in the Netherlands, Louzanne broke a new record for Africa by winning the 1500m sprint with a time of 5:00:25.

Whether it is the 5 000 m or the 1 500 m, Coetzee is breaking records in all her races. Fans of Coetzee were elated when she set a new world record in the 5 000 m T11 category at the Nedbank National Championships for the Physically Disabled in March 2016. The Lithuanian athlete Sigita Markeviciene’s 16-year record of 20:05.81, set at the 2000 Paralympics in Sydney, was shattered by Coetzee’s stellar performance of 19:17.06. Markeviciene’s record was bettered by 48.75 seconds when Coetzee and her guide, Khotatso Mokone, sprinted past the finish line hand in hand. She became the first totally blind female to clock sub-20 minutes in the 5 000 m.

Two days before breaking the 5 000 m world record, Coetzee set a new African record in the 1 500 m. She lowered the mark from 5:27:21 to 5:18:44, placing her ninth in the world.

In 2018, she competed in three events at the Para Athletics event in Berlin, Germany – the 800 m, 1 500 m, and 5 000 m. She was in top form and set a new African record in the T11 800 m race, taking the silver medal behind Mexico’s Monica Rodriquez Saavedra. In the 1 500 m she had to settle for a bronze medal, but in the T11 5 000-m event she smashed her own world record by clocking a time of 18:00.34 – 13.97 seconds better that her previous record.

Coetzee has been nominated for several awards. She was named the 2014 Senior Sportswoman of the Year by the Free State Sport Association for the Physically Disabled (FSSAPD). In 2017, she and her guide Khothatso Mokone received a Special Award for Disabled Sport at the KovsieSport Awards. In 2018, she won the Free State Sports Star Award, and recently she was named Sports Star of the Year (period June 2018 to April 2019) by the Free State Sports Association for the Physically Disabled.

Her hobbies include reading, walking, baking, shopping, and cooking.

According to ufs.ac.za

Mihan (Collect and edit) (World Records Union - WorldKings.org)


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