Le Clos, Gallagher just miss podium as Coetzé and Van Niekerk book finals spots

Erin Gallagher came within a fingertip of a first World Championship medal in Doha on Saturday night, finishing just out of the medals in the 50m butterfly. Gallagher missed... Read more
Le Clos, Gallagher just miss podium as Coetzé and Van Niekerk book finals spots

Erin Gallagher came within a fingertip of a first World Championship medal in Doha on Saturday night, finishing just out of the medals in the 50m butterfly.

Gallagher missed out on the bronze medal by just two hundredths of a second, finishing in fourth spot in 25.69 seconds with continental rival Farida Ousman of Egypt claiming bronze in 25.67 seconds. Sweden’s Sarah Sjöström took the gold in 24.63 and France’s Melanie Henique the silver in 25.44.

Also missing out on a podium place was Chad le Clos, who finished fifth in the 100m butterfly final. The 31-year-old won his semifinal on Friday night but, despite swimming one of his quickest times in recent years, couldn’t find enough finishing speed in the final, reaching the wall in 51.48 seconds for fifth. Portugal’s Diogo Matos Ribeiro claimed the gold medal in 51.17
with Austria’s Simon Bucher taking the silver in 51.28 and Poland’s Jakub Majerski the bronze in 51.32.

Two of South Africa’s Commonwealth Games champions, Lara van Niekerk and Pieter Coetzé, were in semifinal action on Saturday night.

Van Niekerk progressed to the 50m breaststroke final fifth fastest after finishing second behind China’s Qianting Tang in her semifinal in 30.56 seconds. Lithuania’s world record holder Ruta Meilutyte was the fastest qualifier in 29.42.

“It was a good swim. There were a few mistakes I made – I had a very long glide into the wall that cost me about half a second,” said Van Niekerk, who claimed the bronze in this event at the 2022 World Championships in Budapest. “So luckily that happened now and then hopefully it won’t happen again tomorrow.”

Speaking about reaching her second World Championships final, the 20-year-old added: “It’s always great representing the country at the highest level of competition. It is obviously very nerve-wracking but I’m very excited as this is one of my favourite races.”

Meanwhile, fresh from his bronze medal in the 200m backstroke on Friday, Coetzé booked a spot in his third final of the championships in the 50m event.

The 19-year-old powered to the front of his semifinal, finishing in 24.46 seconds – exactly the same time as Poland’s Ksawery Masiuk – to qualify joint third fastest for tomorrow night’s final.

Commenting on making his third final, Coetzé said: “I’m very happy with that. That was the goal coming here and I’ve learnt so much in these last few days so I’m very grateful.”

As for tomorrow’s final, he added: “I’m just hoping to go out there an enjoy it. I truly don’t have any expectations. It’s the last day so I’m pretty excited to get it done. It’s been a long seven days so far so I’m just happy to make another final.”

Earlier in the day both Gallagher and Emma Chelius competed in the 50m freestyle heats. Gallagher finished seventh in her heat in 25.37 seconds and 17th overall while Chelius was sixth in her heat in 25.50 and 23rd overall, with both missing out on the evening semifinals – Gallagher by just one place.

The World Aquatics Championships wrap up tomorrow with Matt Sates scheduled to swim in the 400m individual medley heats in the morning with a potential final in the evening session where Van Niekerk and Coetzé will contest their finals. Both the SA men’s and women’s 4x100m medley relay teams are also set to compete in the morning heats.

Photo: Anton Geyser/SA Sports Images

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