CAPE TOWN – IT was a case of ‘oh so close’ for Cameron van der Burgh in the 50m breaststroke final, and for Chad le Clos in the 200m butterfly final at the FINA World Championships in Kazan, Russia, on Wednesday evening.
The South African duo came desperately close in their bids for World Championship glory but in the end they had to settle for silver.
The upside of their gutsy performance is that Team South Africa now can boast with four medals at the World Championships. Van der Burgh has won two silver medals (50m and 100m breaststroke). Le Clos so far has got one silver to his name and Chad Ho won the 5km open water swim last weekend.
The 50m breaststroke final was a near repeat of what happened in the 100m-final with Van der Burgh taking the early lead but then surrendering the lead to Britain’s Adam Peaty in the final few metres.
Peaty won in 26.52 seconds, with Van der Burgh second in 26.66s, and Kevin Cordes (USA) third in 26.86s. Both Peaty and Van der Burgh swam the second fastest times of their respective careers in the 50m breaststroke.
Emile de Bruin, the swimming coach at Tuks (University of Pretoria), described Van der Burgh’s performance as solid.
“Obviously it would have been nice if Cameron had won gold but if I had to be totally honest I got to say that Peaty deserved to win. At the moment, he remains a class act.
“What excites me is that Cameron got so close to beating Peaty in both the 50m and 100m breaststroke-finals. Remember he was hampered by a shoulder injury for most of last year and only started to do some serious training from this year again,” De Bruin said.
“As the 50m breaststroke is not an Olympic event the big challenge for Cameron in the build-up to the Games in Rio will be to work towards improving his time over the second half of the 100 metre breaststroke. If Cameron can swim the second 50 metres in roundabout a time of 30.98s I think he could be in with a chance to beat Peaty.”
On Wednesday afternoon, De Bruin was not sure whether the Tuks/HPC-swimmer would compete in the 200m breaststroke on Thursday.
“Personally I think it would be good for Cameron to swim the 200m breaststroke in a few galas as in the long run it could stand him to good stead to improve his endurance for the 100m breaststroke.”
Le Clos also had a good start leading for the first 100 metres of the 200m butterfly-final but unfortunately for him Laszlo Cseh (Hungary) got stronger and stronger and passed the South African after 150 metres.
Kudos to Le Clos who never gave up. The South African showed a lot of guts in the way he fought his way back to a second-place finish over the last 50 metres.
Cseh won in 1:53.48, with Le Clos second in 1:53.68, and Jan Switkowski (Poland) third in 1:54.10. – ANA