SA’s teenage swimming sensation Matt Sates capped off a successful Fina World Cup campaign by wrapping up the overall title in Kazan on Saturday.
The Pietermaritzburg swimmer was the only South African in action at the final leg of the short course series in Russia, claiming four medals on the closing weekend of action.
That meant he staved off challenges from American two-time Olympic gold medallist Tom Shields and double Tokyo silver medallist Arno Kamminga of the Netherlands for the overall title after four legs of competition.
The overall women’s World Cup title was claimed by Australia’s 11-time Olympic medallist Emma McKeon.
In Kazan, Sates took gold in the 400m freestyle, edging out world short course champion Danas Rapšys of Lithuania in 3:38.28.
The two then shared the gold in the 200m freestyle, both finishing in a time of 1:41.73.
It took a World Cup record of 1:50.66 in the 200m individual medley from Japan’s Daiya Seto to stave off the challenge from the South African young gun, who finished with silver in 1:52.32.
Sates followed that up with bronze in the 100m individual medley in 51.96, a race also won by five-time short course world champion Seto in 51.29.
“The main goal coming in was to try and get top 20 to get a little bit of money, so coming first and winning it has been absolutely amazing,” said a thrilled Sates who was awarded US$100,000 for the overall title. “Thanks so much to FINA for putting this on. It’s changed my life so a shout-out to them.
“It’s been a month of the most stress that I’ve been under but there have also been the biggest highs that I’ve had so I’m very thankful.”
Sates’s phenomenal solo effort in Kazan put South Africa seventh on the medal table.
An overall World Cup title, which came with 13 individual golds, four silvers and one bronze medal, with several world junior short course records along the way will be a massive boost to the 18-year-old heading into the World Short Course Championships in Abu Dhabi in December.