Double gold for classy Le Closs

2010-08-07 00:00

IT was a day that belonged to young Chad le Clos as he raced to a double gold on the opening day of the Telkom South African Swimming Championships that got under way at the G.C. Jolliffe Pool in the city yesterday.

Le Clos, racing on the eve of flying out to the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in Singapore, was in a class of his own as he stunned firstly a jet-lagged Darian Townsend in the men’s 200 m freestyle, and then Riaan Schoeman in the 400 m individual medley a little later.

Townsend admitted after the opening race that “I knew I was in trouble on that final turn with Chad’s underwater speed off the wall. He is in great shape and should do really well in Singapore.”

Le Clos clocked up an excellent 1:47,89 to edge out Townsend by just 1,21 seconds with another rising star, Leith Shankland, finishing in third place with a 1:49,40.

The men’s 400 m IM was a case of Le Clos leaving his opposition trailing by over 10 seconds as he raced to a World Championship qualifying time, clocking 4:08,00. Schoeman was next in 4:18,12 and Michael Meyer third in 4:26,00.

Olympic backstrokers Gerhard Zandberg and George du Rand set the tone for a geat final this evening after clocking World Championship QTs in the 100 m backstroke. Zandberg looked clearly back to his old form with a 52,51sec dash and Du Rand clocked a 53,13sec swim.

Veteran Mandy Loots followed with her first QT of the meet with yet another victory in her illustrious career in the women’s 200 m butterfly. She dipped under the time by a fraction to clock 2:10,03 as Kathryn Meaklim pushed her all the way to take the silver in 2:11,64.

William Diering had a welcome return to form in the men’s 200 m breaststroke where he managed to stay ahead of fellow Olympian Neil Versfeld all the way. Both continued with the flow of QTs with Diering clocking 2:09,94 and Versfeld a 2:10,41.

A few races later, Roland Schoeman and Graeme Moore performed well in the men’s 50 m butterfly. Both were under QTs but will need to repeat this during tonight’s final, clocking 23,40sec and 23,58sec respectively.

Then it was the turn of Jessica Pengelly in the women’s 400 m individual medley, where she was a comfortable winner in her first QT of the tournament. She clocked a fast 4:38,70 as she also pulled Meaklim under the QT for her second place in 4:40,36. A fast-finishing Wendy Trott took the third place just 0,47sec later.

Among the disabled swimmers, Natalie du Toit produced more world record-breaking performances. She smashed the women’s 100 m IM record by over five seconds in the heats and then again by 0,70sec in the evening final, clocking 1:11,04.

The opening evening received a tremendous boost for local swimming with Pietermaritzburg Mayor Mike Tarr showing his support throughout the finals and presenting the medals to the top performers along with the Swimming South Africa dignatories

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