Commonwealth Games

SA swimmer top qualifier

2010-10-05 07:55
Jean Basson (Gallo)

New Delhi - Jean Basson on Tuesday carried on where Chad le Clos left off in the pool as he qualified fastest for the men's 200m freestyle final on day two of the Commonwealth Games.

Le Clos got the Team South Africa medal count going on Monday - pre-Games targets were set at 15 golds and 40 medals in total - with victory in the 200m butterfly.

Basson signalled his intentions for later in the day by winning his heat in 1min 48.21sec, a heat that included fellow South Africans Sebastien Rousseau and Darian Townsend, who were both unable to reach the final.

Basson, an Olympic finalist from 2008, led the list of qualifiers that includes two Australians, two Englishmen, two Scots and a Canadian.

The South African, however, still faces a massive challenge if he is to medal, though he has the pedigree and character to rise to the occasion just after 13: 30 (SA time) on Tuesday.

A total of five swimmers in the field dipped under 1:49, and while Ian Thorpe's Commonwealth record of 1:44.71 isn't under threat later, all the medallists will be going considerably faster than they did this morning. Elsewhere in the pool Tuesday morning, Cameron van der Burgh, the bronze medallist in the 100m breaststroke from last year's world championships, qualified for the semi-finals later on Tuesday seventh overall with a 1:02.13.

Van der Burgh was pipped to the wall by Australia's Brenton Rickard, but the result itself was not overly important - it's all about getting to the next stage - but the South African will be looking carefully at Australia's world 200m record holder, Christian Sprenger, who has emerged as a gold medal candidate with a Games record 1:00.61 in the heats.

Natalie du Toit, aiming for her third successive S9 freestyle 50m Commonwealth gold, booked her place in Tuesday's final with a 29.82 performance that saw her top the list of qualifiers.

Roland Schoeman, the 2006 Commonwealth champion in the men's 50m butterfly, comfortably reached the semi-finals with a 23.76 swim in heat six, where he touched second behind the very capable Kenyan Jason Dunford.

Geoff Huegill, the Australian who won gold in the event in 2002, is back in shape after ballooning some 40kg in "retirement" and the hard work in getting back to fitness has paid off, as he timed 23.66.

Read more on:    commonwealth games  |  chad le clos
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