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Ho powers to first medal

The 2008 Olympian, Chad Ho, of KwaZulu-Natal, is the talk of South African aquatics after opening the national team’s medal count in clinching bronze in the 5km competition in Ostia, Italy on the third day of the 13th FINA World Championships on Tuesday.

Ho, 19, finished third in 56 min 41.9 secs, with Germany’s Thomas Lurz claiming gold (56:26.9) followed by Spyridon Gianniotis of Greece (56:27.2).

ÔÇ£As we started, the water was really flat and perfect for racing, but as the wind picked up, the water became rougher and the final stretch was really rough,ÔÇØ said an excited Ho afterwards.

ÔÇ£Over the first 2.5km, I was happy with the pace and confident in my stroke, but I always had to keep an eye on Lurz, Gianniotis and a few of the Russians. In the second half of the race, I had to move up as I was lying about 15th before working my way to about 5th. I managed to move to 4th as I went around the last bouy marker and pushed through for a third place finish.ÔÇØ

In paying tribute, SASCOC president Gideon Sam had some strong words. ÔÇ£Congratulations to Chad, and he’s shown exactly the type of spirit that’s required as we push towards London 2012. He wasn’t part of the OPEX provisional elite squad, but has stepped up to the challenge, and has set an example of what can be achieved through sheer determination, attitude and ability. The 2012 OPEX squad is one where athletes can be added, or taken out, depending on performance. He has gone a long way to staking his claim for future inclusion. Well done for getting the medal count rolling.ÔÇØ

In the women’s 5km race, Australian Melissa Gorman took the honours in 56:55.8, while Natalie du Toit (58:56.3) and Dominique Dryding (59:53.2) finished 21st and 37th respectively.

Like Ho, du Toit is expected to be slightly better suited to the 10km open water competition which will take place at the same venue on Wednesday.

Back at the main World Championship arena in Rome, the SA women’s water polo team had the unenviable task of taking on the powerful Australian line up in a Group C fixture, with the team from Down Under running out 23-2 winners. Western Province’s Sarah Harris scored both goals for the SA side.

On Wednesday, Duncan Woods’ national men’s water polo team will take on Canada in a Group A fixture.