Disappointed Chad le Clos still happy with one gold medal
When is a gold tinged with disappointment? When one hunts for three medals and returns with one‚ as happened to Chad Le Clos in Gold Coast on Friday.
When one hunts for three medals and returns with one‚ as happened to Chad le Clos in Gold Coast on Friday.
He started the night with a bang as he powered to victory in the men’s 50m butterfly for the 13th Commonwealth Games medal of his career‚ with countryman Ryan Coetzee floating to the bronze medal behind him.
Twenty minutes later he faded in the 200m freestyle‚ and at the end-of-evening session he produced a great swim but was unable to fire the 4x100m relay team to the podium‚ the first time this millennium that SA has not won a medal in this event.
Does one out of three equate to a 33% score?
“I can’t complain‚” Le Clos said. “If you asked me this morning if I’d take a gold I’d probably have said yes.
“I’m also disappointed‚ that 200m free was a little too much. I would love to have a crack at them fresh.”
Australia’s Olympic 100m champion Kyle Chalmers took the 200m freestyle gold in 1min 45.56sec ahead of his Olympic 400m champion compatriot Mack Horton in 1:45.89.
The winning time was slower than the 1:45.20 Le Clos posted while taking the Olympic silver in this event at Rio 2016.
Le Clos tried the same strategy as he did two years ago‚ going out hard‚ but he ran out of gas soon after the second turn‚ and he limped home a distant seventh in 1:47.46.
But he returned rejuvenated for the relay‚ smashing his 100m leg in 47.97‚ the second-best time of the race behind Australian Jack Cartright (47.71).
“Don’t worry‚” said Le Clos‚ the twinkle back in his eyes. “The 100m freestyle is coming in two days time. We’ll see what happens there.”
The two misses ended Le Clos’s hopes of winning at least six medals here to equal the all-time Games record of 18 career medals. But he is now SA’s most decorated Games medallist‚ one more than retired swimmer Roland Schoeman.
Le Clos has already shifted his focus to his remaining individual races‚ starting with Saturday’s 200m butterfly where he hopes to win his third straight Games crown.
His 23.37 in the ’fly sprint made him a comfortable winner ahead of Dylan Carter of Trinidad and Tobago (23.67) and Coetzee (23.73)‚ who was just three-hundredths of a second in front of the first Australian home.
But Coetzee‚ an accounting student in Tennessee‚ didn’t care about the colour of his gong.
“I mean‚ silver‚ gold‚ it all means the same to me right now‚ my first international medal and doing it with Chad‚” said Coetzee‚ who didn’t realise he was a medal hope until his first race here.
“Before the heats a medal was not even the aim‚” he admitted. “I thought‚ if I get in the final that would be fantastic.”
Coetzee broke that three times in a row here.
Le Clos won’t be alone in SA’s medal safari on Saturday. The mixed triathlon relay team‚ starring new champion Henri Schoeman‚ are in action.
So too is Cameron van der Burgh‚ who qualified third-fastest for the 100m breaststroke final.
Olympic and world champion Adam Peaty set a 58.59 Games record‚ with his countryman James Wilby‚ the 200m breaststroke champion here‚ second-fastest in 59.69‚ marginally quicker than Van der Burgh in 59.74.
“It’s no use to go and give it a big one now‚” said Van der Burgh.
“The goal was just to turn with Adam at 50m‚ which we’ve done. I know that’s a nice little tick in the box and I’m happy‚ looking forward to tomorrow’s final.”
Tatjana Schoenmaker‚ who went 30.82 to break Penny Heyns’s 19-year-old African 50m breaststroke record‚ will attempt to become the first SA woman to win a Games medal in eight years on Saturday in her favourite 200m breaststroke event.
Erin Gallagher is seeded fifth for the women’s 50m freestyle.