Johannesburg - Distance swimming ace Chad Ho won South
Africa’s first ever 5km gold medal in the Open Water event at the FINA World
Championships in Kazan, Russia on Saturday.
His victory comes six years after he made history as the
first South African to win a medal in open water swimming at the global
showpiece when he finished the 5km in third place in Rome in 2009.
"I'm over the moon, I honestly couldn't believe the
result,” Ho said after winning the title.
“Today’s race was brutal, the wind was something else, and I
had to fight the wind just to get a nice line.”
Ho won the race by the narrowest of margins beating
Germany’s Rob Muffels thanks to a photo-finish reading with the two posting
matching times of 55:17.6.
Muffels claimed the silver medal while Matteo Furlan of
Italy bagged the bronze medal in a time of 55:20.00.
“I know that I had done the work and it paid off in the end…
going into the last 400m I told myself 'you can do this' and I repeated this a
few times as I sprinted for the finish line,” Ho said about the tight finish
for the victory.
“As I entered the final sprint I wanted to be close to the
left lane rope so that I could breathe to the right.
“I saw Rob and Matteo and thought 'oh no" but I found
my legs and my second wind. That's what open water swimming is all about, the
very close finishes like today.”
The swimming events in the pool will only start next week
Sunday where South Africa’s Olympic gold medallists Chad le Clos and Cameron van
der Burgh will start their respective campaigns.
They will be joined by Sebastien Rousseau, Ayrton Sweeney
and Myles Brown as the only members of the country’s swimming contingent.