Stiff competition for three-time Midmar Mile champ Chad Ho

2013-02-06 00:00

THREE-TIME defending men’s champion Chad Ho faces a stiff challenge at this year’s aQuellé Midmar Mile, which takes place on the weekend of February 9 and 10.

Aiming to end Ho’s recent domination are the likes of Troy Prinsloo, Myles Brown and Mark Randall.

They, like Ho, have all earned South African national colours in distance events, while Prinsloo’s former training partner at the University of Georgia and former European men’s champion over 800 m and 1 500 m, Sébastien Rouault, will also be on the start line of this year’s event.

In the Midmar Mile, though, Ho has always demonstrated supreme determination and focus and it is no different this time around.

“I don’t really worry about the other challengers. I focus on myself and my own swim, what I have to do and try to just get to the other side as fast as possible,” he said.

Before Ho became the first man to win the Midmar Mile three times in succession, some other very fine swimmers had narrowly failed to achieve the same feat.

Wayne Riddin, the event organiser of the past 21 years, won two in a row in 1975 and 1976, but was then beaten by Paul Blackbeard, a huge swimming star in the 1970s.

Jacques Marais won in 1978 and 1979, but not in 1980.

Graham Hill, South Africa’ head swimming coach at the 2012 London Olympic Games, tasted victory in 1985 and 1986, but Shaun Rivalland took the win the following year. Paul Fryer’s bid for three in a row was thwarted by Ryk Neethling in 1994.

The future Olympic gold medallist, who was a 1 500 m freestyle specialist at the time, won again in 1995 and would have been a good bet to win in 1996, but instead chose to focus on the Atlanta Olympic Games.

In 2001, he became the first three-time winner of the men’s title.

Troy Prinsloo captured his first title in 2005 and successfully defended it in 2006.

His hopes of winning number three was, however, thwarted in 2007 when dangerous conditions led to the first-ever cancellation of the men’s race.

After finishing third in 2009, former under-14 champion Ho raced to his first Midmar Mile open victory in 2010 and followed that up with victories in 2011 and 2012 — with each win more convincing than the previous one.

“It meant a huge deal being the first person to do it in the 40 years of the event,” he admitted.

“I hope I can continue that tradition and go on to four, five or even six. But we’ll take it one year at a time.”

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