KwaZulu-Natal’s Chad Le Clos gave himself the best possible birthday present when he raced to a FINA A qualifying time and put himself firmly in contention for selection for the Commonwealth Games in the 200-metre butterfly on the first day of the Telkom SA National Aquatics Championships in Durban on Monday.
In the process of winning in 1min 56.86 seconds he managed to hold off the challenge of the continental record holder, Sebastien Rousseau from Cape Town.
Le Clos had already swam a qualification time for the Youth Olympic Games in Singapore. ÔÇ£I’m ecstaticÔÇØ said the 18-year-old. ÔÇ£What a birthday present! I was so nervous coming into the race and then when I saw we were next to each other with 25m to go I became really nervous. But now the pressure is off my shoulders and I can enjoy the rest of the week.ÔÇØ
Le Clos and Rousseau changed the lead several times in the race; at the halfway mark Le Clos was in the lead, but Rousseau came back at him in the third 50m. Le Clos had the better turn, spending longer time under water, which gave him the edge and powered away in the last 25m. When Le Clos touched the wall in 1:56.86 he equalled his best ever performance.
Le Clos had huge support in the crowds. ÔÇ£My whole family was here along with 20 supporters. That gave me the edge in the final 25m. It was a real adrenaline jolt.ÔÇØ
A further feather in his cap is that Le Clos is now ranked 3rd in the World in 2010.
Mark Randall of Border missed out by the narrowest of margins on achieving a FINA ÔÇ£AÔÇØ qualifying time and putting himself in contention for a berth at the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi when he clocked 3:49.97 for the 400m freestyle.
Randall was very pleased with his time, which is a new personal best. His time places him seven on the 2010 world ranking lists.
Despite having a hard day, Mandy Loots first qualified for the finals in the 50m butterfly and then went on to win the 200m individual medley.
For latest results of the Telkom SA National Aquatics Championships, please visit – http://ssa.sportza.co.za