By Mark Etheridge
Olympians Chad le Clos and Cameron van der Burgh bagged South Africa’s first two medals at the 2017 Fina World Championships in Budapest, Hungary, on Wednesday evening.
First, it was Le Clos who dominated the men’s 200-metre butterfly final, leading from start to finish in a gutsy display.
Chased by the two Hungarians in the race, Le Clos clocked a time of 1min 53.33sec to avenge defeat to the host nation’s Laszlo Cseh, the man who beat him at the last World Championships in Kazan, Russia, two years ago.
Cseh won silver on Wednesday, with a time of 1:53.72 and Japan’s Daniel Seto bronze in 1:54.21.
Le Clos, who seemed to have run out of steam in his semi-final, or to save himself for Wednesday’s final, started from lane six. He led by 0.71sec after the first length, 1.11 at the halfway and although that lead had been trimmed to 0.65 with a lap to go, the two-time Olympian had enough in the tank.
He collected his gold medal with tears streaming down his face and watched by father Bert in the crowd.
Less than 20min later it was Le Clos’ fellow London and Rio Olympian Van Der Burgh who doubled South Africa’s medal tally.
Up against the phenomenal Adam Peaty, who had set a world record 25.95sec in the 50m breaststroke semi-finals on Tuesday, Van der Burgh took third as Peaty once again dipped under the 26sec barrier with a winning time of 25.99, the only man do go quicker than 26 seconds.
Van der Burgh’s third place came in 26.60 as Brazilian Joao Gomez Junior took silver in 26.52.
Picture of Le Clos and Cseh with their medals courtesy of Clive Rose/Getty Images