Chad and Cameron taste gold

2013-08-01 00:00

SOUTH Africa’s swimmers won two gold medals at the Fina world swimming championships in Barcelona last night.

It was a goosebump moment, as the harmonies of Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika echoed twice at the Palau Sant Jordi swimming arena, after both Chad le Clos and Cameron van der Burgh won gold medals.

Giulio Zorzi, Van der Burgh’s swimming partner and a good friend, won bronze for an unexpected, but well-earned, third place.

Le Clos was the first South African on the podium, winning the 200-metre butterfly stroke in a time of 1:54,32 seconds.

With his Olympic gold medal exactly a year old yesterday and having set the fastest time on Tuesday evening, the young South African was the overwhelming favourite to win the race. However, he had to work hard, as Poland’s Pawel Korzeniowski (second in 1:55,01) and China’s Wu Peng (1:55,09) had Le Clos looking over his shoulder for the last 25 metres.

Unlike the night when the young Durbanite stood on the Olympic podium, he managed to hold the tears of joy back last night. On the stands, his father, Bert, did wipe away the tears, as Le Clos stood proudly in the colours of the South African flag.

Van der Burgh had a tense race in the 100 m breaststroke (as on Tuesday evening) after the Australian Christian Sprenger caught up with him over the last 15 m.

In the 50 m breaststroke last night, it looked like the man from Down Under would beat Van der Burgh again, but this distance has always been the South African’s favourite item and he was clearly determined to leave Spain with another gold to add to his 2009 world record time. Sprenger gave the race his all, with Van der Burgh touching the wall just 100th of a second ahead of the Australian’s fingers.

Van der Burgh’s time of 26:77 is his best yet in the textile suit. But when he learned that his mate, Zorzi, would also stand on the podium, he swam across to congratulate him, his own gold medal forgotten for the moment.

The 24-year-old Zorzi had proven Van der Burgh’s earlier prediction correct, when he told Beeld that the young swimmer was one to watch in coming races.

Zorzi earned third place, with a personal best time over the 50 m in 27,03 seconds.

The world championships continue for their second half today. South Africa already have their best medal haul since 2005, with four medals — two gold, one silver and one bronze.

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