South Africa

Hill buoyant over world champs

2014-11-28 23:12
Graham Hill (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - National swimming coach Graham Hill was buoyant about South Africa's medal chances at the Fina World Short Course Championships in Doha next week, expecting one of the country's best medal hauls yet.

"I am quite excited about this competition. I think we are going with a very strong team," Hill said on Friday, ahead of the team's departure for Qatar

Swimming SA (SSA) has selected a strong squad, spearheaded by Olympic gold medallists Chad le Clos and Cameron van der Burgh.

South Africa's hopes for more individual medals will be pinned on middle distance ace Myles Brown, breaststroker Giulio Zorzi and Sebastien Rousseau.

"Obviously with Chad, Cameron, Giulio and Myles, they are all looking good to bring us medals.

"I think our relays will be quite exciting as well. We have some great relays in the 4x50m, the 4x100m, the 4x200m freestyle and the medley relay, so we have chances to bring home more medals."

South Africa's biggest medal haul at the biennial event was in the 2008 Manchester edition, where the team returned with six individual medals - a gold, silver and four bronze medals.

In 2012, Le Clos was South Africa's lone medallist with a gold and silver in the 100m and 200m butterfly respectively.

However, Hill was confident that Le Clos would not be the only swimmer to return to the country with silverware in the bag.

"Chad is in four events - the three butterfly events and the 200m freestyle.

"Cameron is in all three breaststroke events - the 50, 100, and the 200m breaststroke - and Myles will be swimming the 200, 400 and 1 500m freestyle," Hill said.

"It is quite exciting to have so many guys swimming for medals in so many events. Looking at just the three guys there, it is already 10 events where they will actually be swimming for individual medals."

While the individual swimmers instilled confidence of a good showing, Hill also had reason to be bullish about the relay teams' chances.

The Glasgow Commonwealth Games earlier this year saw the emergence of a new crop of young freestyle sprinters which formed an integral part of the relay success there.

Youngsters Calvin Justus, Clayton Jimmie and Caydon Muller - all under the age of 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.

"Rio is the big picture and it has always been my plan to get the relays competitive for Rio and not just to be part of the so-called team, as some people have been saying," Hill said.

"We want to go there to win medals and I've been putting things in place. We've seen the results at the Commonwealth Games and I am sure we are going to results at the World Short Course Championships now, and next year at the World Long Course Championships."

The team for Doha also included five women swimmers with rising stars Tatjana Schoenmaker and 15-year-old Erin Gallagher looking to continue grow on the international stage.

South Africa swimming team:

Women

Trudi Maree, Rene Warnes, Erin Gallagher, Lehesta Kemp, Tatjana Schoenmaker

Men

Sebastien Rousseau, Stephen Coetzer, Charl Crous, Richard Ellis, Clayton Jimmie, Calvyn Justus, Myles Brown, Chad le Clos, Luke Pendock, Leith Shankland, Cameron van der Burgh, Giulio Zorzi

Read more on:    swimming
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