South Africa’s Hendri Herbst is hoping to reach the Paralympic podium once again in Rio, after claiming bronze in the men’s 100m freestyle S11 at London 2012.
Last May, the 24-year-old swimmer showed outstanding form at the Funchal 2016 European Open Championships, winning gold and silver in the 50m and 100m freestyle S11, respectively, proving he is ready for September’s Paralympic challenge.
“I am looking forward to racing in Rio, it is going to be world class and the pool is great,” said Herbst.
“The vibe and the atmosphere are something out of this world. No other competition even comes close to the Paralympic Games.
“Rio 2016 is going to be different than London 2012 but still awesome. Every host country make the Games a unique experience.”
In Rio, Herbst will compete in the 50m and 100m freestyle S11, and the 100m backstroke S11, and has set high goals.
“I want to equal or better my performance in London. That goes hand in hand with swimming a personal best. And obviously enjoy while I am doing it,” he said.
Herbst recalls London 2012 as one of the best events he has ever taken part in.
“The moment I claimed the Paralympic medal was one of the best in my life. I can still remember the overwhelming feeling when I got out and the official told me I had won bronze,” he said.
Whilst trying to outperform his results from London in Rio, Herbst will certainly face tough opponents.
“The competition is really strong. It all comes down to who is the best on that day,” he said.
“There are a few of us that are quite close. USA’s Bradley Snyder, Brazil’s Matheus Sousa and Japan’s Keiichi Kimura stand a good chance.”
Even though Herbst knows tight races wait for him in Rio, he remains confident.
“Anything is possible. I feel really good in my 50m, the best in a very long time. If I can improve on my performance in Funchal, then I definitely have a chance,” he said.
“Since the World Championships in Glasgow, Great Britain, in 2015, I have been struggling with a shoulder injury. For this reason, Funchal was so important. It was the first major international event and no one knew if my shoulder would hold,” he said.
But after his successful return to the international stage, Herbst keeps dreaming.
“I think the ultimate dream of any Paralympic athlete is to win gold, with a new world record time, at the Paralympics,” he said.
“For me just medalling in London was a dream come true. But I can just imagine how amazing it must be to stand on the podium, with your national anthem playing.”
Sport fans from around the world can now buy their Paralympic tickets for Rio 2016 from authorised ticket resellers (ATRs)
The IPC’s Global ATR is Jet Set Sports, and Rio 2016 tickets and packages can be purchased on the CoSport website.
Residents of Brazil can buy 2016 Paralympics tickets directly from the Rio 2016 website.
Visa International is the exclusive payment card and the official payment system for the Paralympic Games.