Johannesburg - Distance swimming ace Chad Ho won South Africa’s first ever 5km gold medal in the Open Water event at the FINA World Championships in Kazan, Russia on Saturday.
His victory comes six years after he made history as the first South African to win a medal in open water swimming at the global showpiece when he finished the 5km in third place in Rome in 2009.
"I'm over the moon, I honestly couldn't believe the result,” Ho said after winning the title.
“Today’s race was brutal, the wind was something else, and I had to fight the wind just to get a nice line.”
Ho won the race by the narrowest of margins beating Germany’s Rob Muffels thanks to a photo-finish reading with the two posting matching times of 55:17.6.
Muffels claimed the silver medal while Matteo Furlan of Italy bagged the bronze medal in a time of 55:20.00.
“I know that I had done the work and it paid off in the end… going into the last 400m I told myself 'you can do this' and I repeated this a few times as I sprinted for the finish line,” Ho said about the tight finish for the victory.
“As I entered the final sprint I wanted to be close to the left lane rope so that I could breathe to the right.
“I saw Rob and Matteo and thought 'oh no" but I found my legs and my second wind. That's what open water swimming is all about, the very close finishes like today.”
The swimming events in the pool will only start next week Sunday where South Africa’s Olympic gold medallists Chad le Clos and Cameron van der Burgh will start their respective campaigns.
They will be joined by Sebastien Rousseau, Ayrton Sweeney and Myles Brown as the only members of the country’s swimming contingent.