A trifecta of swimming medals was the order of the day as Chad le Clos and rising female star Tatjana Schoenmaker raised the mercury in the pool at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games on Saturday.
South African swimming stalwart Cameron van der Burgh also got in on the action bagging the bronze medal in the 100m breaststroke.
Tatjana Schoenmaker (200m breaststroke)
A glimmer of hope for the revival of South African female swimming evolved into a blinding light as the 20-year-old Schoenmaker blasted to a new continental record to claim the gold medal.
Schoenmaker became the first South African woman since the Delhi 2010 Games to earn a medal in the pool, improving Suzaan van Biljon’s African record from 2012 by more than a second when she posted a time of 2:22.02.
She chopped a second-and-a-half off the personal best she clocked to win the silver medal at last year’s World Student Games.
“I was surprised about the time. I saw underwater that I touched first, so I was super happy, and when I looked around and saw 2:22 I was like ‘ooh, ok’. I gave it my all, so I am pretty happy about the time. I don’t think I could say I could swim any faster.”
Chad le Clos (200m butterfly)
Shortly after he touched first in the final, Le Clos held up three fingers signifying his golden ‘threepeat’ in his pet event.
Le Clos is now the undisputed butterfly king at the Commonwealth Games, winning the 200m title three consecutive times.
The London 2012 Olympic champion outclassed the field as he raced to an unassailable lead at the final turn, ultimately stopping the clock at 1:54.00.
“I am very happy. it was a good time and I have a big 100m freestyle final coming up tomorrow night and I am very excited
for that. I wanted to get the threepeat – 2010, 2014 and 2018 – because no-one’s done the triple before so I am like the Michael Phelps of the Commonwealth.”
Cameron van der Burgh (100m breaststroke)
He may no longer be the king of the breaststroke but Van der Burgh proved once more he still has the mettle to mix it with the best.
World record holder Adam Peaty was untouchable, as expected, but Van der Burgh put up a gutsy fight for silver, touching the wall in 59.44 and missing out on second place to England’s James Wilby by just 0.01.
It was his seventh career Commonwealth medal, and he was hoping for one more in the 50m breaststroke later in the Games.
“We knew it wasn’t going to be the fastest race. The conditions, being in an outdoor pool, are not always as favourable, but people don’t remember the times at a championship. They only remember the medals. That’s the most important thing, so to add another medal – this is my seventh – I’m happy with that.”