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2014 golden year for Chad

2014-12-21 21:15
(File, AFP)

Johannesburg - Two years after emerging as the crown prince of the pool at the London Olympic Games, Chad le Clos has finally ascended to the throne.

The halfway mark to the next Olympics is usually considered a quiet year for athletes but, in Le Clos' case, it was a record-breaking one.

On the back of unprecedented success at the Fina World Cup series where he won 27 gold medals from as many finals, Le Clos would still go on to even greater success in the months to come.

Le Clos received the honour of being named Male Swimmer of the Year by the sport's governing body Fina - the first non-American to receive this title.

Affirming his new-found status, Le Clos did not disappoint as he sizzled at the Hamad aquatic centre in Doha, Qatar, at the world short course championships.

Global showpiece

The 22-year-old bagged the 200m freestyle title before demonstrating that he was the undisputed king of butterfly. On the final night of the gala, he became the first swimmer to win the 50m, 100m and 200m butterfly at a world championship.

Victories in his specialist stroke brought his medal tally to four golds – the biggest medal haul ever by an individual South African swimmer at the global showpiece.

His achievement surpassed the three golds won by Ryk Neethling at the 2006 edition in Shanghai.

Olympic gold medallist and world record-holder Cameron van der Burgh nabbed South Africa's fifth medal, sharing second place with Britain's Adam Peaty in the 50m breaststroke.

Going into the global gala, Van der Burgh had recovered from a shoulder injury and narrowly missed out on a podium spot in the 100m breaststroke.

Earlier in the year, swimming once again proved to be the most valuable code for the South Africans at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

They produced a dozen of the country's medals, with Le Clos winning four individual medals and three in relays.

In doing so, Le Clos equalled Australian legend Ian Thorpe's record of seven medals at a Games.

Record time

Le Clos's haul in Glasgow brought his total to 12 medals stretching over two Commonwealth Games which included five medals from Delhi four years ago.

Also at the Games, Van der Burgh, swimming one of the most tightly contested strokes, relinquished his 100m breaststroke crown to Peaty to finish in second place.

However, he pipped the youngster to successfully defend his 50m breaststroke title in a new Games record time of 26.76 seconds.

Twenty-three-year-old Sebastien Rousseau was also one of the standout swimmers for South Africa at the Games, winning two individual medals – bronze for the 200m butterfly and 400m individual medley.

He also featured in the silver-medal winning 4x200m relay freestyle team and 4x100m medley relay team to boast four medals.

Stalwart Roland Schoeman drew the curtain on his Commonwealth Games career, having accumulated 12 medals during his five appearances.

Stellar start

The Games also saw the emergence of a new crop of young freestyle sprinters who formed an integral part of the relay teams' success there.

Calvin Justus, Clayton Jimmie and Caydon Muller – all under 20 – earned the 4x100m freestyle relay team a spot in the final where Muller, Schoeman, Leith Shankland and Le Clos won the silver medal.

The swimming team also won bronze medals in the 4x200m freestyle and 4x100m medley, along with a silver in the 4x100m freestyle relay.

Meanwhile, South Africa's top women's swimmer Karin Prinsloo made a stellar start to the year where she was the country's star swimmer at the aquatics super series in Perth.

She claimed five medals – 200m freestyle gold, 400m freestyle silver, 100m freestyle bronze – setting three national records before winning the bronze medal in the 4x200m freestyle and 4x100m freestyle relays.

Read more on:    chad le clos  |  johannesburg  |  swimming

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