Le Clos’ Sweet 16 As Roar Of Africa Answered By Dolphins’ Leap: 3G, 4S, 5B & Twin Sweeps

Big Splash: South African Chad le Clos - by Patrick B. Kraemer

Commonwealth Games

Gold Coast

Day 5 Finals

What a day for Africa and its swimmers of the South. You can read it everywhere. Fair do’s, too. As would be noting that there was one nation that had no reason to turn green with envy of a great haul of three golds: day 5 – one to go – at the Gold Coast Aquatics Centre delivered three gold, four silver and five bronzes for the hosts, Australia.

Hard to choose a swim of the day when Bronte Campbell goes 52.27 and Chad Le Clos goes 50.65 – and Alys Thomas stakes a strong claim to surprise of the meet, the perseverance cup and world-ranks-ripper trophy all in one 2:05.45 Welsh-Dragon of a performance in the 200m butterfly.

There was gold for Ariarne Titmus in the 800m freestyle, an event that delivered the second Aussie sweep of the day after Mitch Larkin led teammates home in the 200m backstroke.

And then there was a breaststroke double for Tatjana Schoenmaker, while the evergreen Cameron Van Der Burgh, pipping Adam Peaty by 0.04sec after doing so by 0.02sec four years ago  in the breaststroke dash. All of which sent South Africa soaring up the medals table to second place above England.

History all round, as told in our event files, links below. One line transcended the moment.

To become the most decorated 100 ‘flyer in Commonwealth history, Le Clos will have to stick around until the 2022 Games and have another crack at gold: Geoff Huegill (AUS) took the title in 1998, 2002 and, after a comeback with stirring story attached, 2010.

Given what we know of Le Clos – now coached by Andrea di Nino as part of the Energy team led by 2002 Commonwealth breaststroke champion-turned-coach James Gibson – it may well become a part of his story. Today, the 25-year-old completed the butterfly hatrick by adding to his victories over 50 and 200m. The lines of history keep rolling from the book he’s writing:

In the 200m butterfly, he became the first man to win the same crown three times successively
Gold today marked his 16th career Commonwealth medal – the biggest tally in the history of the Games in swimming

“That’s 16!” said Le Clos, after surpassing Australian legend Susie O’Neill. The South African added:

“I’m very humbled. I knew had to win tonight – a lot of pressure obviously going in as the favourite. James (Guy) I knew was going to come out guns blazing. It was a tight race but I kept my cool in the end.”

Cameron Van Der Burgh – dash champion at three times of asking – by Patrick B. Kraemer

Of course, it wasn’t all about him, South African celebrated three golds in quick succession, tension unlocked when Van Der Burgh pipped Peaty and ended his four-year winning streak in the 50m. Next up, there was gold and the breaststroke double for Schoenmaker, her 1:06.41 a South African record inside the standard set in 1999 by Penny Heyns, the 1996 double Olympic champion. Said Le Clos:

“Awesome night – I don’t where to start. Cameron was phenomenal. That was one of the best performances I’ve ever seen him do. And then Tatjana, superstar, getting the double gold (in the 100 and 200m).”

Draped in a South African flag, Le Clos described Van der Burgh’s win “very special” … Obviously Peaty is the world record-holder, so for him to win that is unbelievable. You’ve got to tip your cap to Cameron.”

When Le Clos arrived at the Games, he had seven events on his card and needed six medals to catch up with England shooters Mick Gault and Philip Adams and their joint all-time, all-sport records of 18 Commonwealth medals apiece.

Le Clos has added three gold and a silver to his vault this week but even if South Africa land a medley relay medal tomorrow in the curtain-closing session, he can’t catch the shooters until Birmingham hosts in 2022. Le Clos noted:

“If I get a (relay) medal tomorrow, I’ll miss it by one but I’ve done everything that I could.
I’m very proud of myself personally. Nothing could have gone better for me this week. I couldn’t ask for a better way to end.”

Final by Final

The Medals Table – after 5 of 6 days:

Gold   Silver   Bronze TOT
AUS 15 15 13 43
RSA 6 1 2 9
ENG 5 6 4 15
CAN 3 6 4 13
SCO 1 3 4 8
WAL 1 1 2
JAM 1 1
TRI 1 1
NZL 1 1
Tot 31 33* 29 75
  • * – joint silver in the women’s 50m freestyle; and in the men’s 100m freestyle

 

What a day for Africa and its swimmers of the South. You can read it everywhere. Fair do’s, too. As would be noting that there was one nation that had no reason to turn green with envy of a great haul of three golds: day 5 – one to go – at the Gold Coast Aquatics Centre delivered three gold, four silver and five bronzes for the hosts, Australia. Hard to choose a swim of the day when Bronte Campbell goes 52.27 and Chad Le Clos goes 50.65 – and Alys Thomas stakes a strong claim to surprise of the meet, the perseverance cup and world-ranks-ripper trophy all in one 2:05.45 Welsh-Dragon of a performance in the 200m butterfly. Le Clos had the edge when it came to transcending the moment: 16 medals – a Commonwealth swimming record past Susie O’Neill

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