World recordholder Cameron van der Burgh relinquished his world 50-metre breaststroke title to Brazilian Felipe Alves Franca da Silva at the FINA World Championships in Shanghai, China on Wednesday.
Van der Burgh went into the final as the fastest qualifier after his 26.90 seconds in the semi-finals but was powerless to stop Franca da Silva streaking to gold in a time of 27.01.
Silver went to Italian Fabio Scozzoli in 27.17 with Van der Burgh clocked at 27.19.
It was a good start for Pretoria’s Van der Burgh as he and Scozzoli had the two fastest reaction times to the gun (0.62sec) but once Franca de Silva hit the water he was flying and his final victory margin of 0.16sec was a convincing one.
The result means Van der Burgh now has his and Team South Africa’s second bronze medal of the championships. He is the only medal-winner for South Africa in Shanghai thus far.
Earlier this week he also took bronze in the 100m breaststroke, the event where he’ll be focusing on at next year’s London Olympics.
Van der Burgh still holds the world record in the 50m breaststroke with the 26.67sec that swam to win the world title in Rome, Italy two years ago.
ÔÇ£This happens sometimes in the 50m sprints,ÔÇØ said Van der Burgh. ÔÇ£But I came here to get a medal in the 100m breaststroke as that is my main focus for the Olympics next year. I achieved that so I am satisfied.ÔÇØ
Van der Burgh still leaves Shanghai the fastest man this year after his 26,90sec dash in the semi-finals.
Earlier, Youth Olympics and Commonwealth Games star Chad le Clos ended fifth in the 200-metre butterfly final.
Teenager Le Clos touched in 1min 55.07 to bag fifth spot behind American legend Michael Phelps. Le Clos though will have the consolation of having swum faster than the 1:56.48 he clocked to win gold at last year’s Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, India.
Starting in lane one, Le Clos held his own to be third after both the first and second length but slowly faded out of contention over the last two lengths.
Phelps went on to win in 1:53.34 after swimming 1:59.48 in the morning heats. Taking the silver medal was Japan’s Takeshi Matsuda in 1:54.01.
Phelps still holds the world record with the 1:51.51 he swam to win the event at the 2009 World Championships in Rome.
Team South Africa came up with another finalist in the shape of Darien Townsend in the men’s 200m Individual Medley. Swimming in lane of the first semi-final the former Maritzburg College student touched in fourth place. His time was 1:59.49, almost 0.5sec quicker than the 1:59.97 he swam in the morning heats.
Racing up ahead of him and into the final were Americans Ryan Lochte and Phelps who clocked 1:56.74 and 1:57.26 respectively.
ÔÇ£My coach always told me that I must be at least third in the first semi-final, and that would have made it,ÔÇØ said Townsend. ÔÇ£I did feel better than this morning although I am not 100% at the moment.ÔÇØ
Earlier Gideon Louw and Graham Moore failed to make the final of the men’s 100-metre freestyle in the first action of the afternoon.
Louw ended seventh in the first semi, starting in lane two and clocking 48.96sec behind winner James Magnussen. Magnussen, second fastest of the morning’s qualifiers touched in 47.90 to book his place in the final. In the morning heats Louw had clocked a personal best 48.74.
Also starting in lane two in the second semi, Moore was eighth in a hotly contested race. He clocked 48.59sec, 0.04sec ahead of his morning heats time. Winner of the second heat was France’s William Meynard┬á in 48.25sec.
Last man into the finals was France’s Fabien Gilot with a 48.46sec for fifth spot in the second heat.